We have previously written about a damages opinion having been excluded for relying on a jury verdict from an unrelated matter. Another recent effort to use a jury verdict has also been excluded in this opinion from Judge Burke in the District of Delaware.
In the opinion, Judge Burke observes that some may reasonably conclude that courts appear to have established jury-verdict reliance as per se unreliable:
In contrast to this view, however, Judge Burke suggests no such blanket rule should be presupposed to exist:
Judge Burke goes on to describe in a footnote a scenario where a jury verdict might prove relevant for damages:
It appears clear to us that the lesson remains to exercise extreme caution when entertaining use of a jury verdict in damages analysis. While the unique facts of a case may support such reliance, those occasions will likely prove exceedingly rare.
Medtronic appealed this patent infringement matter in which a jury in the Eastern District of Texas decided that Medtronic induced infringement of two patents owned by Dr. Mark Barry. The Federal Circuit affirmed the jury’s findings and preserved the damages award.
The damages award was based on a survey, the so-called “Neal Survey.” Medtronic argued that the Neal Survey failed to measure infringement by physicians; Plaintiff Barry represented that it did. Notably, the Federal Circuit provided some guidance for what Defendant Medtronic needed to show (but didn’t) to invalidate the Neal Survey:
Because Medtronic failed to show the errors in the survey results, the jury’s award was allowed to stand.
Surveys are a powerful empirical tool that can serve a wide variety of purposes, including damages analysis. At the same time, surveys must be properly formulated and executed, which are no easy tasks. As a result, an uneasy tension exists between the statisticians who are usually called upon to perform a survey, and the economists/accountants/financial analysts who must employ those results for damages analysis, without running afoul of Daubert.
We welcome any and all guidance from courts, like that highlighted above, specifying where the survey guardrails exist. We further expect surveys to prove an increasingly important area of judicial development for damages over the next decade.