Federal Circuit Comes to Santa Clara University Next Week

By Eric Goldman

Next week, a three judge panel of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals will be visiting Santa Clara University and hearing oral arguments in four cases. You can read the briefs of the cases to be heard. (I’ve attached a summary of the non-patent cases at the bottom of this post.) We have three open events that we invite you to attend.

Case Previews

November 3, 2008

Time: 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Bannan 127

A preview of the cases to be heard on the 4th will be given by Santa Clara Law faculty as well as attorneys from Blakely Sokoloff Taylor & Zafman; McDermott Will & Emery; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; and Cooley Godward Kronish. Lunch will be served. Admission is free, and everyone is welcome (RSVPs not required).

Oral Arguments

November 4, 2008

Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals will sit at Santa Clara Law on November 4, 2008. A panel of three judges will hear cases from 10 a.m. to noon in the Law School’s moot court room. Seating in the moot court room is by invitation only. The oral arguments will also be simulcast to the de Saisset Museum on campus. Seating at the Museum is free and open to the public; no RSVPs required. If you do not have a seat reserved in the Moot Court Room, please go directly to the de Saisset Museum. Read the briefs of the cases to be heard.

Lunch with the Judges

November 4, 2008

Time: 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Sponsored by the High Tech Law Institute and the Silicon Valley Intellectual Property Law Association.

Following oral arguments, lunch with the judges will be held in the Mission Room of the Benson Center on campus. Towards the end of lunch, there will be short remarks from the presiding judge followed by a 30 minute question and answer period. The cost for this lunch is free to HTLI benefactors and $50 for everyone else. Registration is required; we will not be able to accommodate walk-ins. Register here.

I want to mention a fourth event, although the event is full:

The Federal Circuit Visits the Valley – Discourse and Dinner

November 5, 2008

Four Seasons, Palo Alto

Time: 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

On November 5, 2008, the Stanford Program in Law, Science and Technology, the High Tech Law Institute, the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology and the Federal Circuit Bar Association will host a program titled “The Federal Circuit Visits the Valley – Discourse and Dinner” at the Four Seasons Hotel in East Palo Alto. This event is now full.

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A short preview of the non-patent cases:

Rancher v. Peake

The Board of Veterans’ Appeals denied the appellant’s claim to establish an earlier effective date for her 100% rating for her service-connected schizophrenia. The Board also found that she withdrew her claim seeking a total disability rating based upon individual unemployability (TDIU). The case was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Appeals, which declined, based upon a lack of jurisdiction, to consider the appellant’s earlier effective date argument. The Court also affirmed the board’s finding on the withdrawal of the TDIU claim. The decision has now been appealed to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals on these two issues.

Hooker v. U.S.

This case is appealed from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The appellant claims that the U.S. Government is liable for breach of contracts for trapping beavers and hogs at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina. At trial, the appellant alleged that a contract modification extended the hog contract and that the Government breached the contract by hindering his performance of the contract. He also alleged that work on the beaver contract exposed him to radioactive contamination about which the Government failed to inform him, and that the trial court should reform the beaver contract to reflect what he would have bid had he known of the alleged contamination. Finally, the appellant argued that the Government acted in bad faith by reducing his work orders and attempting to induce him to abandon his contracts. The trial court held that the appellant abandoned the hog contract and did not attempt to perform additional work; that the appellant did not produce any evidence to show he had suffered damages as a result of the Government’s alleged failure to inform him of the contamination and, therefore, there would be no remedy available even if his allegations were true; and that the Government did not act in bad faith in its administration of the beaver or hog contracts. This decision has now been appealed to the Federal Circuit.

Hartland v. U.S.

The appellant is a LLC from Virginia. In its complaint, the appellant states that a valid predecessor of the LLC entered into a contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the sale of a hydroelectric power plant in Vermont. The appellant sued for damages under the Tucker Act for breach of contract. At some point, between the date of the contract and the filing of the suit, the appellant sold the company that was party to the contract that the appellant claims the Government breached. The Court of Federal Claims dismissed the complaint holding that the appellant lacked the privity of contract with the Government that was necessary to establish that the court possessed subject matter jurisdiction to entertain the breach of contract claims. This issue is now on appeal to the Federal Circuit.

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