March 28, 2008
Genuine Issues Of Material Fact
A trial court order granted summary judgment to a defendant law firm in a legal malpractice case was reversed by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin. Foley & Lardner were sued by a former client who manufactures web guide control systems. The client alleged that the lawyers had failed to prevent the premature expiration of a patent that they held. The court concluded that:
"we are satisfied that there were genuine issues of material fact that precluded the granting of the summary judgment motion against AccuWeb. Our holding focuses on three main areas where AccuWeb presented sufficient evidence on damages to avoid the granting of summary judgment against it. First, AccuWeb showed diminution of business valuation problems upon any attempt to sell its business. Second, AccuWeb clearly demonstrated a loss of its ability to license or assign the rights to use the invention formerly protected by the 414 patent. Third, AccuWeb presented enough information to establish reasonable competing inferences on the reason for FiTech's substantial reduction in the amount of its offer to purchase AccuWeb, which was a reduction from approximately $12.2 million to $5.5 million...
...we hold that AccuWeb demonstrated that there were genuine issues of material fact that were sufficient to preclude the granting of a motion for summary judgment against it on the issues of whether there was evidence of damages resulting from the loss of its 414 patent, and the amount of those damages. Based on the record before us, we are satisfied that AccuWeb could present evidence sufficient to enable a reasonable jury to award damages to the company in an amount that is supported by the evidence. We, therefore, reverse the decision of the court of appeals because we hold that there were genuine issues of material fact that precluded summary judgment against AccuWeb." (MIke Frisch)
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