United States District Court, D. Minnesota
W. Poradek, Katherine S. Razavi, Timothy M. Sullivan, Patrick
Bottini, and Kelly Fermoyle, FAEGRE BAKER DANIELS LLP, and
Jared B. Briant, FAEGRE BAKER DANIELS LLP for plaintiff.
M. Markison and Joseph W. Hammell, DORSEY & WHITNEY LLP,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Sorin Group USA, Inc. (“Sorin”) brought this
action against Defendant St. Jude Medical, S.C., Inc.
(“St. Jude”) based on St. Jude's hiring of
two former Sorin employees - a supervisor, Danna Homan, and a
salesperson, John Mitch Tracy. Sorin alleged multiple claims,
including: intentional interference with contract; aiding and
abetting breach of legal duties; and intentional interference
with prospective economic advantage. The case was tried
before a jury in November 2016. At trial, the jury found that
the greater weight of the evidence did not show: (1) St. Jude
intentionally interfered with Homan's or Tracy's
contractual relationship with Sorin; (2) St. Jude aided and
abetted Tracy's alleged breach of the duty of loyalty
owed to Sorin; or (3) St. Jude intentionally interfered with
Sorin's reasonable expectation of economic advantage or
benefit. Sorin now moves for a new trial claiming the Court
erred when it admitted an exhibit into evidence and that St.
Jude made a highly prejudicial attack contending Sorin was
litigious during trial. Sorin also moves for the Court to
review the clerk's cost judgment, requesting the Court
adjust the cost judgment to exclude $7, 442.64. The Court
will deny Sorin's motion for a new trial and grant in
part and deny in part Sorin's motion to review the
clerk's cost judgment.
Jude and Sorin are competitors in the heart valve and related
products market. Homan and Tracy were Sorin employees.
Sorin Grp. USA, Inc. v. St. Jude Med. S.C., Inc.,
176 F.Supp.3d 814, 818-19 (D. Minn. 2016). Homan was employed
as a Cardiac Surgery Regional Sales Manager at Sorin.
Id. at 819. Homan left Sorin to work for St. Jude in
January 2014. Id. Tracy worked for Sorin as a sales
representative. Id. In August 2014, Tracy left Sorin
to work for St. Jude. Id. Sorin brought this action
in September 2014, alleging St. Jude recruited Homan and
Tracy and tortiously caused them to breach their contracts,
violate their fiduciary duties, and provide improper economic
advantage to St. Jude. Id. at 828. After the Court
granted in part and denied in part St. Jude's motion for
summary judgment, id. at 839, the case proceeded to
relevant to this motion, the “Saxon
Order” is an exhibit that appeared on Sorin's trial
exhibit list. (Decl. of James W. Poradek, Ex. 1, Jan. 6,
2017, Docket No. 304.) The Saxon Order is an order,
unrelated to this case, where the Court granted, in part, a
motion for a preliminary injunction in St. Jude Medical
S.C., Inc. v. Saxon, No. 13-2332, 2013 WL 6481440 (D.
Minn. Dec. 10, 2013).
to trial, St. Jude filed a motion in limine to exclude the
Saxon Order. (Mem. in Supp. of Mot. in Lim. to
Exclude Irrelevant Evid. at 4, Oct. 31, 2016, Docket No.
212.) St. Jude argued the Saxon Order was
irrelevant, prejudicial, and would take “an inordinate
amount of trial time” to “explain and
contextualize.” (Id. at 4, 8.) At oral
argument, while Sorin did not withdraw its argument that the
Saxon Order was admissible, Sorin did not focus its
oral argument on the Saxon Order. (Mots. in Lim. Tr.
at 34:7-11, Dec. 14, 2016, Docket No. 287.) The Court granted
St. Jude's motion to exclude the Saxon Order.
(See Ct. Mins., Nov. 14, 2016, Docket No. 257.)
began on November 14, 2016. During opening statements, St.
Jude first indicated that Sorin's decision not to pursue
a preliminary injunction would be an issue in the case.
(Trial Tr. at 63:15-25, 73:1-16, 76:15-18, Dec. 14, 2016,
Docket Nos. 289-99.) St. Jude also discussed the absence of a
preliminary injunction with two witnesses, Homan
(id. at 361:19-21) and Sorin's expert
(id. at 1813:12-1814:8). In response to St.
Jude's inquiry regarding Sorin's decision not to move
for a preliminary injunction, Sorin asked its in-house
counsel about Sorin's motives with regard to the
preliminary injunction issue. (Id. at
cross-examination of Sorin's in-house counsel, St. Jude
addressed Sorin's decision not to seek a preliminary
injunction. (Id. at 1863:1-1868:4, 1869:13-1870:15.)
After this questioning, St. Jude showed the Saxon
Order to the witness, without prior notice to Sorin, even
though the Court had excluded the Saxon Order.
(Id. at 1874:16- 1875:1.) Sorin objected and, at
sidebar, Sorin argued the Court should not permit St. Jude to
admit the Saxon Order because doing so would violate
the Court's order regarding the motion in limine.
(Id. at 1875:3-21.) St. Jude did not admit to the
Court that the Saxon Order had been excluded and,
instead, countered that because it was Sorin's exhibit,
St. Jude should be allowed to admit the Saxon Order
for the purpose of “cross-examin[ing] the witness about
his testimony on direct examination about not pursuing an
injunction.” (Id. at 1875:7-10, 1875:23-25.)
The Court admitted the Saxon Order into evidence,
but told St. Jude that it could not question Sorin's
in-house counsel about the document if he had “never
seen it before.” (Id. at 1876:5-10.) When
cross-examination resumed, Sorin's in-house counsel
testified that he was not familiar with the Saxon
Order. (Id. at 1876:22-1877:2.) Yet, St. Jude
continued to question Sorin's in-house counsel about the
Saxon Order. (Id. at 1878:12-1880:25.)
closing argument, St. Jude discussed Sorin's failure to
seek a preliminary injunction at length, explaining the
Saxon Order gave the jury “an example of an
injunction and what an injunction is and what it can
do.” (Id. at 2422:24-2425:7.) St. Jude also
highlighted that the Saxon Order was written by the
Court and that attorneys from Faegre Baker Daniels were part
of the case. (Id. at 2423:10-13, 2424:1-3.) St. Jude
further expressed its opinion about Sorin's motives for
filing the lawsuit: “to punch St. Jude in the face
because they [didn't] like the fact that [St. Jude] . . .
hired one of [Sorin's] top sales reps.”
(Id. at 2419:5-7.) St. Jude also indicated that the
reason Sorin did not seek an injunction was “[b]ecause
that [didn't] serve [Sorin's] purpose of punching St.
Jude in the nose.” (Id. at 2424:16-17.)
the Court charged the jury, the jury deliberated and returned
a verdict in favor of St. Jude on all counts. (See
Jury Verdict, Dec. 1, 2016, Docket No. 280.)
January 6, 2017, Sorin filed a Motion for a New Trial. Three
days later, St. Jude filed its Bill of Costs requesting $49,
494.48. Sorin filed objections to the Bill of Costs,
asserting St. Jude was not entitled to $16, 265.59 of the
costs sought. On May 3, 2017, the clerk's office issued a
cost judgment in the amount of $47, 444.85 - reducing St.
Jude's requested costs by $2, 049.63. In response, Sorin
filed a motion to review the clerk's cost judgment,
asking the Court to exclude $7, 442.64 of costs.
MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL
moves the Court to grant a new trial under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59
because, in Sorin's view, the Court erred in admitting
the Saxon Order and St. Jude improperly argued Sorin
had a litigious motive in bringing the case. Rule 59(a)(1)
provides in relevant part: “[t]he court may, on motion,
grant a new trial on all or some of the issues . . . after a
jury trial, for any reason for which a new trial has
heretofore been granted in an action at law in federal
court.” A new trial is appropriate when, because of
legal errors, the first trial “resulted in a
miscarriage of ...