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Judges order consideration of discovery demands

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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.
 

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  1. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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