Proof of complicity and proof of case-dispositive discovery not required for new trial under Rule 60(b)(3)

Rembrandt Vision Techs, L.P. v. Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, No. 2015-1079 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 7, 2016)

The patent owner appealed the district court’s denial of a Rule 60(b)(3) motion for a new trial following a jury’s verdict that the plaintiff had failed to prove that the accused contact lenses were “soft” as required by the patent claim.

After trial, the plaintiff learned that the defendant’s expert had testified falsely and withheld test results and data analysis that would have undermined his opinions and trial testimony. The plaintiff moved for a new trial under Rule 60(b)(2) based on the newly discovered evidence and Rule 60(b)(3) based on the newly discovered fraud. The district court denied the motion holding that: (1) the plaintiff had not satisfied the Eleventh Circuit’s required showing that a new trial would probably produce a new result, (2) the defendant’s counsel was not complicit in the false testimony, and (3) the plaintiff was not prevented from fully and fairly presenting its case.

The Federal Circuit, applying Eleventh Circuit law, reversed and remanded for a new trial under Rule 60(b)(3), finding that the district court had abused its discretion in denying the plaintiff’s motion. The testimony of defendant’s expert on a central infringement issue at trial concealed the expert’s knowledge of test results on third party products previously found to infringe which contradicted his conclusions with respect to the accused products. The plaintiff was not required to prove that the withheld testing would have necessarily affected the outcome of the case. Instead, the plaintiff only needed to show that timely production would have made a difference in the way the plaintiff’s counsel approached the case or prepared for trial. The district court also erred in requiring proof that the defendant or its counsel was complicit in the expert’s false testimony. The Federal Circuit did not address whether the district court abused its discretion in denying a new trial under Rule 60(b)(2).

A copy of the opinion can be found here ►