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Civil Procedure Keyed to Yeazell
Unitherm Food Systems, Inc. v. Swift-Eckrich, Inc.
Citation:546 U.S. 394 (2006)
Plaintiff claimed that a patent of Defendant was invalid because Plaintiff’s president had invented the process six years before. Plaintiff sued, alleging that Defendant had violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by attempting to enforce a patent obtained by fraud. Defendant moved for judgment as a matter of law under FRCP Rule 50(a), asking the district court to dismiss the case based on insufficiency of evidence. The court denied the motion and sent the case to the jury, which returned a verdict for Plaintiff. Defendant appealed to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to prove an antitrust violation. However, Defendant did not renew the motion for judgment as a matter of law after the verdict, pursuant to Rule 50(b), or move for a new trial, pursuant to Rule 59. Plaintiff argued that since Defendant had failed to renew its motion under Rule 50(b) as a party would typically be required to do after an unfavorable verdict, the circuit court could not consider the insufficiency-of-evidence claim. Defendant took the position that renewal of the motion was optional. The circuit court noted that it must apply the precedent of the relevant regional Circuit Court (the Tenth), under which Rule 50(b) was indeed optional. The circuit court found the evidence insufficient to support the jury’s verdict, so it reversed the verdict and ordered a new trial. Plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court.
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