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SCOTUS requests government’s take on limits to punitive damages

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(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Courtroom on Tuesday requested the U.S. Solicitor Normal to share the government’s views of a case through which a federal appeals courtroom slashed a $280 million award punishing India-based IT service supplier Tata Consultancy Companies for stealing medical software program firm Epic Programs’ commerce secrets and techniques.

The seventh U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals said final 12 months that the quantity of punitive damages, which was double what Epic was awarded as compensation for the trade-secret misuse, was extreme beneath the U.S. Structure.

In its bid to have the excessive courtroom evaluation that ruling, Epic said the choice nixed a sort of award that has been “permitted for hundreds of years,” and stated the ruling “cannot be squared with history.”

The excessive courtroom did not give the federal government a deadline to weigh in on the case.

Tata, by its lawyer Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin, declined to remark. Epic and its lawyer Michael Brody of Jenner & Block did not instantly reply to a request for remark.

Verona, Wisconsin-based Epic first sued Tata in 2014 in Wisconsin federal courtroom. In an amended 2015 complaint, Epic accused Tata of taking 1000’s of confidential paperwork from its pc techniques to assist develop a competing software program supplier, Med Mantra.

A jury awarded Epic $240 million in compensation and $700 million in punitive damages, in one of many largest trade-secret verdicts on file. U.S. District Choose William Conley slashed the whole award to $420 million in 2017, chopping Epic’s compensatory damages to $140 million and punitive damages to $280 million, primarily based on a Wisconsin regulation that caps punitive damages at double compensatory damages.

The seventh Circuit additional decreased the punitive damages award primarily based on the Due Course of Clause of the 14th Modification, instructing the district courtroom to restrict it to $140 million at most.

Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, U.S. Circuit Choose Michael Kanne stated the award was unconstitutionally excessive as a result of Tata’s conduct wasn’t “reprehensible to an extreme degree,” and that doubling the already-high compensation award was “unnecessary to reflect Epic’s uncertain economic harm.”

In its April petition for Supreme Courtroom evaluation, Epic argued that the seventh Circuit’s ruling was unprecedented.

“No decision of this Court has rejected a punitive damage award of two times compensatory damages,” Epic stated. “No decision of this Court, or any other, has found that a jury’s award in compliance with a state’s statutory ratio violates due process.”

Epic stated the appeals courtroom made an “unprecedented substitution of its judgment for the judgment of the jury and the Wisconsin legislature,” and that its resolution “conflicts with decisions of this Court and other courts” whereas “calling into question a long tradition of statutes permitting treble damages (or other multiples) in cases involving economic loss.”

Tata said in June that the excessive courtroom should not evaluation the seventh Circuit’s ruling as a result of its resolution was primarily based on the details of the case, and did not create a broad rule about punitive damages that conflicted with different courts.

The case is Epic Programs Corp v. Tata Consultancy Companies Ltd, U.S. Supreme Courtroom, No. 20-1426.

For Epic: Michael Brody of Jenner & Block

For Tata: Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin

Learn extra:

Epic Programs wins $940 mln U.S. jury verdict in Tata commerce secret case

U.S. jury cuts damages in TCS-Epic commerce secrets and techniques lawsuit

Blake Brittain

Blake Brittain stories on mental property regulation, together with patents, emblems, copyrights and commerce secrets and techniques. Attain him at [email protected]