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Arlington Industries, Inc. v. Bridgeport Fittings

March 3, 2010

ARLINGTON INDUSTRIES, INC., PLAINTIFF
v.
BRIDGEPORT FITTINGS, INC., DEFENDANT
BRIDGEPORT FITTINGS, INC., CONSOLIDATED PLAINTIFF
v.
ARLINGTON INDUSTRIES, INC., CONSOLIDATED DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the court are two motions to alter or amend the non-final judgment entered by the court on October 7, 2009. (See Doc. 638.) The first, filed by Bridgeport Fittings, Incorporated ("Bridgeport"), requests (1) that the court enter final judgment in its favor with respect to two Whipper-Snap connector models adjudged non-infringing in a parallel litigation before a second federal court, (2) amend duplicative damage amounts awarded by the jury in the matter herein, and (3) amend the total damages awarded for infringement by connector model 802SP. (See Doc. 648.) Arlington Industries, Incorporated ("Arlington") has also filed a motion to amend judgment, wherein it requests that the court amend the damages award to include prejudgment interest for patent infringement beginning December 6, 2005 through October 7, 2009, and award prejudgment interest for breach of contract beginning October 15, 2005 through October 7, 2009. (See Doc. 640.) For the reasons that follow, both motions will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Relevant Background & Procedural History*fn1

Litigation concerning claim 8 of United States Patent Number 5,266,050 (the "'050 patent") has been ongoing between the instant parties since at least 2001, when Arlington sued Bridgeport for infringement. The lawsuit continued for three years before it settled on the eve of trial. On April 7, 2004, the parties entered a settlement agreement wherein Bridgeport (1) stipulated to the '050 patent's validity, (2) admitted that its "Snap-In" and "Speed-Snap" electrical connectors infringed the '050 patent, and (3) submitted to entry of a permanent injunction prohibiting it from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the infringing products or "any colorable imitation of such products." (See Doc. 270.)

Approximately one year later, Bridgeport designed a new quick-connect electrical fitting, which it denominated the "Whipper-Snap." On or before October 15, 2005, Bridgeport placed these new devices onto the market. Counsel for Arlington contacted Bridgeport's counsel on November 18, 2005, and expressed concerns regarding the design of the Whipper-Snap connectors. A meeting was arranged for December 6, 2005, at which time Arlington suggested that the Whipper-Snap connectors infringed claim 8 of the '050 patent. Thirteen days later, Bridgeport filed a complaint for declaratory judgment of non-infringement. (See Doc. 471 at 8.)

On May 31, 2006, Arlington filed a parallel suit for infringement before the Honorable A. Richard Caputo. (See Bridgeport Fittings, Inc. v. Arlington Indus., Inc. ("Arlington II"), No. 3:06-CV-1105 (M.D. Pa.), Dkt. No. 1.) Arlington therein alleged that two of Bridgeport's Whipper-Snap connector models-catalog numbers 3838ASP and 3838SP (hereinafter the "duplex connectors")-were infringing both the '050 patent and United States Patent Number 6,521,831 (the "'831 patent"). During the course of this lawsuit, Judge Caputo construed claim 8 of the '050 patent in a way that was inconsistent with the undersigned's construction of the same claim in the above-captioned matter. Arlington II thereafter proceeded to summary judgment, and Judge Caputo held that the duplex connectors did not infringe claim 8 as a matter of law.*fn2

The duplex connectors, which Judge Caputo found non-infringing as a matter of law, constituted two of the thirty-two connector models Arlington accused of infringement in the instant suit. Thirteen days prior to commencement of trial, Bridgeport moved to stay the proceedings and argued that the final judgment in Arlington II carried res judicata effect herein. The court weighed several competing concerns in assessing Bridgeport's motion, including the uncertain applicability of issue or claim preclusion, the timing of Bridgeport's request for a stay, the parties' significant trial preparation expenditures, and the expeditious presentation of issues for appellate review. (See Doc. 584; Doc. 773 at 9-12.) Ultimately, the court excised from trial the duplex connectors adjudged non-infringing in Arlington II and delayed presentation of evidence on these products pending full briefing of Bridgeport's res judicata arguments. (See Doc. 584; Doc. 773 at 9-12.)

The matter thereafter proceeded to a jury trial on the remaining thirty Whipper-Snap connector models. After two weeks of presentation, the jury returned a verdict that twenty-nine of the accused products literally infringed claim 8 of the '050 patent, and one connector, the 802ASP, infringed claim 8 under the doctrine of equivalents. (See Doc. 632.) In addition, the jury held that twenty-six Whipper-Snap connectors were colorable imitations of the enjoined Snap-In and Speed-Snap connectors. The jury awarded infringement damages of $2,772,373 in lost profits and $662,278.54 in reasonable royalties. The jury awarded $2,780,555 in damages for Bridgeport's breach of contract. (See id.) The court thereafter entered the jury's verdict as a non-final judgment on October 7, 2009. (See Doc. 638.)

II. Standard of Review

A party may move to alter or amend a judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). A motion under this provision "may not be used to relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment." Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, --- U.S. ---, 128 S.Ct. 2605, 2617 (2008) (quoting 11C CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT ET AL., FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE § 2810.1 (2d ed. 1995)).

"A proper motion to alter or amend judgment must rely on one of three major grounds: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence not available previously; or (3) the need to correct clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." N. River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir. 1995). In addition, postjudgment motions for prejudgment interest are commonly pursued under Rule 59(e). See Schake v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp. Severance Plan for Salaried Employees, 960 F.2d 1187, 1192 (3d Cir. 1992).

III. Discussion

The parties have filed competing motions to alter or amend the non-final judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). Bridgeport requests that the court (1) enter final judgment in its favor with respect to the duplex connector models held non-infringing as a matter of law in Arlington II; (2) amend the duplicative damage amounts awarded by the jury; and (3) amend the total damages awarded for infringement by connector model 802SP. (See Doc. 648.) Arlington moves the court to amend the damage award to include prejudgment interest for patent infringement beginning December 6, 2005 through October 7, ...


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