Thursday, March 19, 2015

Big-Law Missed Deadline: Fed Cir Refuses To Disregard It

I posted earlier about a blunder that caused AT&T's patent firm to miss a deadline for filing a Notice of Appeal. Again, unless you're a lawyer, you may not appreciate how big a deal this is.  In litigation you can miss many deadlines without really feeling the pain. But not this one. The law says a judge can't ignore this deadline unless it's an exceptional situation.

So to summarize, AT&T's firm (1) lost a $40Million jury verdict, then (2) missed the deadline for appealing that verdict. So unless AT&T's lawyers were able to convince the Federal Circuit that their blunder was excusable, AT&T was stuck paying over $40Million. (Decision below).

Today, the Federal Circuit said, too bad. Well, two out of three judges said too bad. Personally, I really think what did them in was their forced-admission that AT&T had 15 lawyers on the matter, and not even a single one of them actually read the judge's order. And it didn't help that they all billed their client for doing so. Oops.

One think I know for sure: I'll be reading those ECF notices more carefully from now on.