ILNews

Judges order consideration of discovery demands

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a Northern Indiana District Court to reconsider a German company’s discovery demands made in relation to a lawsuit pending in Germany over the alleged theft of trade secrets.

Heraeus Kulzer, maker of bone cement for orthopedic surgery, is suing Biomet, which has its corporate headquarters in Warsaw, Ind., claiming Biomet’s bone cement incorporates Heraeus’ trade secrets without authorization. Heraeus had a contract for many years with another German company to distribute Heraeus’ bone cement. In 1998, that company entered into a joint venture with Biomet, which began making a close substitute for Heraeus’ product.

German law only allows discovery of documents that can be specifically identified individually whereas American law allows for much broader discovery. Heraeus can seek discovery in U.S. federal court because of 28 U.S.C. Section 1782. District Judge Robert L. Miller in the Northern District of Indiana denied the discovery, and by doing so, committed two errors, wrote Judge Richard Posner for the 7th Circuit.

District Courts that receive these kinds of requests must be careful of potential abuses that would warrant a denial and Judge Posner spelled out several examples. But Heraeus’ requests weren’t an attempt to abuse the American discovery system and Judge Miller was incorrect in concluding that the company was seeking to circumvent German law, wrote Judge Posner in Applications of Heraeus Kulzer, GmbH, for orders compelling discovery for use in a foreign proceeding v. Biomet Inc., et al, Nos. 09-2858, 10-2639.

“Heraeus cannot obtain even remotely comparable discovery by utilizing German procedures and there is nothing to suggest that the German court would be affronted by Heraeus’s recourse to U.S. discovery or would refuse to admit any evidence, or at least any probative evidence (German judges can disregard evidence that would waste the court’s time), that the discovery produced,” he wrote.

The District Court also erred in turning down the company’s discovery request flat out on the ground that compliance would be burdensome to Biomet. The District Court didn’t require Biomet to negotiate with Heraeus over cutting down the request and Biomet didn’t ask to limit the scope of discovery.

“Heraeus’s discovery demands are broad, in part because they reach back fifteen years, to before the joint venture between Biomet and Merck. For all we know, they are too broad. But if so, it doesn’t follow that Heraeus is not entitled to any discovery. It’s not as if its demands were frivolous; it obviously needs a good deal of discovery in order to prepare its case against Biomet,” he wrote. “If it’s asking for too much, the district court can and should cut down its request, but not to nothing, as it did. That was unreasonable, and therefore reversible.”

The judges remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

ADVERTISEMENT