District Court Awards $15 Million in Attorney Fees in Multi-Defendant and Multi-District Litigation

On May 3, 2022, Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr., United State District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, granted defendants’ motion for attorneys’ fees and expenses. In this 15 law firm major MDL patent litigation in Indianapolis, Woodard Emhardt attorneys Spiro Bereveskos, Dan Lueders, and Lisa Hiday represented Defendant, Iroquois Bio-Energy Company, LLC. Of the total award, Iroquois was awarded nearly everything it requested, being awarded $1.4 million in legal fees, expert fees and expenses. Mr. Bereveskos played a major role in leading the MDL group and trying the case.

Plaintiff, GS CleanTech, originally filed suits against several defendants in multiple states alleging that they infringed upon CleanTech’s family of patents related to extracting corn oil from ethanol byproducts. In 2010, The Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation consolidated the cases in the Southern District of Indiana for pretrial proceedings in MDL No. 2181, Cause No. 1:10-ML-2181.The result was an “overwhelming victory for the defendants, who prevailed on summary judgement when Judge McKinney invalidated CleanTech’s patents and ruled them unenforceable.”

In a related case the Court found that, “CleanTech made affirmative, false representation to the PTO about the date on which its process was patentable and about the date in which it had offered the patented invention to a potential customer. Both the District Court and the Court of Appeals found that CleanTech’s agents knew the statements were false when they were made. CleanTech failed to correct the false statements with the PTO, and after obtaining the patents at issue, proceeded to sue more than two dozen purported infringers, seeking enforcement of patents obtained on the strength of representations that CleanTech principles and their lawyer knew to be false.”

“But for CleanTech’s conduct, the defendants wouldn’t have had to hire and pay for experts and shouldn’t be required to absorb the costs of those experts. Accordingly, CleanTech’s objection to an award of expert fees is overruled.”

As one factor, Mr. Bereveskos got the patent attorney/witness implicated in the inequitable conduct to admit that his discovery of important evidence sent a “chill up his spine.”

Patent owner CleanTech also argued the there was no evidence that “it engaged in improper tactics or acted in bad faith”. The Court stated, “[t]he record demonstrates otherwise.”