March 02, 2020

On March 2, 2020, a federal jury in the Western District of Oklahoma returned almost $114 million verdict in favor of Hetronic in a dispute that our client considered critical to the preservation of its business unit and among the company’s most significant litigation.  The verdict included approximately $102 million in compensatory damages and $12 million in punitive damages, following an almost three-week trial.

Hetronic, a subsidiary of Methode, is a leading manufacturer of customizable radio remote control solutions.  We represent Hetronic in a series of interrelated cases concerning the theft of highly confidential and proprietary information by Hetronic’s former president and vice president of accounting as well as unfair competition by one of its major distributors.

This case against the distributors involved claims of Lanham Act violations as well as breach of the parties’ agreements and various torts due to the conspiracy with the former president who improperly shared Hetronic’s confidential information with the defendants. On the eve of trial, our team won a motion for issue preclusion regarding ownership of the disputed intellectual property that stripped the defense of one of their key arguments.  All of Hetronic’s claims then went to trial last month.  Defendants dismissed their one remaining counterclaim with prejudice during trial.

The trial team was led by Partners Debbie L. Berman and Wade A. Thomson.  Others on the cross-office team included Partners Laura E. B. Hulce, Gianni P. Servodidio and Matthew J. Thomas, Senior Paralegal Wendy Kachingwe and Paralegal Julie Hartl.  Staff attorney Sean M. Lopez played an important role throughout the case.  As legal issues arose, Partner Clifford W. Berlow and Associate Grace C. Signorelli-Cassady provided important legal research and analysis as did Associates Miriam J. Wayne and John J. Frawley.  Appellate and Supreme Court Co-Chair and Partner Matthew S. Hellman and former associate James Dawson worked on the preclusion motion with legal research support from Associate Christina T. Lopez.  Many other associates have assisted over the six years that this case was pending.

Ms. Berman and Mr. Thomson were recognized by The American Lawyer as "Litigators of the Week" runners-up for the victory.