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Court erred in barring expert witness in decade-old software suit

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A trial court erred when it excluded the expert testimony of a witness who sought to address damages for a software company whose former employees allegedly violated non-compete clauses.

In the latest chapter of litigation dating to 2002, the Indiana Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed the Porter Superior Court’s grant of a motion to exclude economic and business valuation testimony of an expert for the plaintiffs in Think Tank Software Development Corp. d/b/a Think Tank Networking Technologies Group, et al. v. Chester, Inc., Mike Heinhold, John Mario, Joel Parker, Thomas Guelinas, et al., 64A05-1205-PL-270.

Mike Heinhold, John Mario,Joel Parker, Thomas Guelinas and other former employees of Think Tank who years earlier went to work for Chester wanted to exclude the testimony of an expert whose qualifications and reliability of scientific principles were disputed. The trial court granted the motion.

In reversing, Senior Judge John Sharpnack wrote that once an expert’s scientific theories are determined to be reliable under Trial Rule 702, cross-examination is the means of exposing dissimilarities between actual evidence and an expert’s theories.

Sharpnack also clarified potential damages in the 17-page order. “Stated simply, four of Think Tank’s claims survived summary judgment: breach of a covenant not to compete, breach of a covenant of confidentiality, misappropriation of trade secrets, and tortious interference with contract. In Think Tank I, (64A03-1003-PL-172) we noted, ‘The proper measure of damages for breach of a covenant is the plaintiff’s lost net profits,’” Sharpnack wrote.

“Finally, to the extent that (the expert’s) profit erosion analysis is based solely on the departure from Think Tank of the defendant employees and their subsequent employment by Chester, the analysis may be inadmissible because the defendant employees were free to leave and become employees elsewhere. They committed no wrong, contractually or otherwise, against Think Tank merely by leaving,” the court said.




 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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