RRK Holding Co. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., No. 04 C 3944, Min. Order (N.D. Ill. Sep. 10, 2007) (Coar, J.).*

Judge Coar denied the parties’ damages motions in limine.* First, the Court held that defendant Sears, Roebuck & Co. (“Sears”) could have its damages expert Catherine Lawton testify regarding her analysis of a hypothetical September 2001 negotiation between the parties. Plaintiff RRK Holding (“RRK”) argued that the misappropriation began in March 2000, not when Sears began selling its product in September 2001. As a result, Sears contended that Lawton’s September 2001 hypothetical negotiation should not be allowed into evidence. But the Court held that the timing of the misappropriation was a question of fact for the jury and, therefore, allowed Lawton’s testimony.

Second, the Court held that Sears could introduce the 2003 sale of some of RRK’s assets for $17M as part of Sears’s damages case. The Court held that the value of the sale was relevant to RRK’s alleged injury based upon the alleged misappropriation.

Third, the Court held that RRK could introduce damages calculations including periods beyond the “head start” period (the time it would have taken for Sears to reverse engineer RRK’s combination tool). The head start period was disputed, preventing the Court from fixing a time for the period, and any alleged harm would be resolved by a jury instruction explaining how the jury should calculate damages relative to the head start period.

Finally, the Court denied RRK’s motion for sanctions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1927. RRK argued that Sears’s March 2007 production, two years after fact discovery closed, of documents dated 1999 was “unreasonable and vexatious” and should be sanctioned. But the Court held that Sears’s explanation that the documents were found when it replaced its litigation counsel and new counsel ran additional searches rendered the delay “negligen[t] and reckless[],” but not in bad faith. The Court, therefore, did not impose sanctions.

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