Wednesday, March 25, 2015
On Monday, March 23, 2015, Delaware Superior Court Judge, the Honorable Mary M. Johnston, issued her opinion upholding the jury’s verdict awarding Professional Investigating and Consulting Agency, Inc. (PICA) over $6,500,000 in compensatory damages due to Hewlett Packard’s misappropriation of trade secrets and defamation. Judge Johnston also awarded PICA 75% of its attorneys’ fees in one of the largest awards of attorneys’ fees in Delaware history and more notably, sanctioned Hewlett Packard’s attorneys for bad faith litigation tactics.
In summarizing her opinion, Judge Johnston wrote:
“Trial in this case lasted for 12 days. The jury was attentive and diligent throughout the trial, and conducted lengthy deliberations. The Verdict Sheet contained 20 detailed questions. The jury appeared to the Court to have a good understanding of the issues and evidence presented.
The Court finds that the jury’s Verdict is reasonable and consistent with the evidence. Having weighed the evidence, the Court holds that the Verdict is on that a reasonably prudent jury could have reached. There is no reason to set aside the Verdict on the basis of passion, prejudice, partiality, corruption or disregard of the evidence or law. The jury’s damages awards are not so grossly disproportionate to the injuries suffered that they shock the Court’s conscience and sense of justice.”
Although the Court declined to award PICA exemplary damages due to the jury’s finding that the misappropriation of trade secrets was both willful and malicious, Judge Johnston noted that, “if the trade secret claim were the only amount awarded to PICA, the Court would grant exemplary damages. However, in light of the total jury verdict, the Court declines to impose an additional amount for exemplary damages for punitive purposes.”
In awarding PICA 75% of its attorneys’ fees, Judge Johnston stated that, “Should HP dispute the reasonableness of the dollar amount represented by 75% of PICA’s attorneys’ fees, HP shall provide a full accounting of HP’s own fees and costs in defending the entirety of this litigation.”
PICA expects Hewlett Packard’s attorneys to appeal the verdict and post-trial rulings to the Delaware Supreme Court.
PICA is represented by Cooch and Taylor attorneys Blake Bennett and Christopher Lee.