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Ridgeway v. Stryker Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

November 16, 2017

CHRISTOPHER MARTIN RIDGEWAY
v.
STRYKER CORPORATION, ET AL.

         SECTION “B” (4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

         Considering Appellant-Debtor Christopher Martin Ridgeway's (“Debtor”) Motion and Memorandum in Support for Leave to Appeal Order Denying Debtor's Motion to be Reconsidered (Rec. Doc. 1) and Appellees', Stryker Corporation and Howmedica Osteonics Corporation (collectively, “Appellees”), Response in Opposition to Motion for Leave to Appeal. Rec. Doc. 6. Also before the Court is Debtor's Motion to Expedite Appeal (Rec. Doc. 9). For the following reasons, IT IS ORDERED that Debtor's Motion for Leave to Appeal is DENIED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Debtor's Motion to Expedite is DISMISSED as moot.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Before the Court is a request by the Debtor seeking leave to appeal a decision of the Bankruptcy Court that struck his common core doctrine objections to Appellees proofs of claim for attorney fees and costs. Rec. Doc. 1. In particular, Appellees proofs of claim for attorney's fees and costs were submitted based on an underlying judgment in federal court in the Western District of Michigan (“Michigan Case”). Id.

         Michigan Case

         This controversy originated in Michigan, where Appellees brought a claim against Debtor-former employee of Appellees-in part, for violation of a non-compete under the Michigan Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“MUTSA”). Rec. Doc. 1 at 7-11. Following jury trial, judgment was entered in favor of Appellees and against the Debtor on March 9, 2016. Rec. Doc. 1 at 8-9. Debtor appealed the judgment, which was affirmed by the Sixth Circuit. Id. Shortly thereafter, Debtor filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on March 23, 2016. See In Re Christopher Martin Ridgeway, No. 16-10643 (E.D. LA 2017).

         Bankruptcy Appeal

         The instant appeal deals with a pre-hearing, evidentiary ruling from the Bankruptcy Court. In July of 2016, Appellees filed proofs of claim with the Bankruptcy Court seeking an award for attorney fees and costs based on the Michigan Case judgment. Appellees claim is in the amount of $3, 432, 147.71: $745, 195 for actual damages, and the bulk of the remaining $2.2 million for attorneys' fees and costs. Rec. Docs. 1 and 6. Appellees cite the Michigan Uniform and Trade Secrets Act, MCL 445.1901 et seq., (“MUTSA”) and “common core” doctrine as one basis for an award of costs and fees. See Bankr. Dkt. Nos. 288 and 384.

         In December 2016, Debtor filed his Objections to Appellees Proof of Claim, asserting that Appellees were not entitled to recover certain attorneys' fees under MUTSA and the common core doctrine. Bankr. Dkt. No. 288.

         On April 6, 2017, after reassignment to the case, the Honorable Judge Douglass Dodd held an initial status conference with the Parties (the “April Conference”). Rec. Doc. 1 at 15. Unfortunately, due to a lack of any transcript for the April Conference on the record, we have only the Parties' best recollection of the discussions had during said conference. Nevertheless, in pertinent part, the April Conference order reads:

         IT IS ORDERED that:

1) Not later than May 15, 2017, debtor shall file and serve on Stryker and Howmedica's counsel a list of time entries in Stryker and Howmedica's counsel's billing statements that it contends are objectionable, specifying for each entry the debtor's basis for claiming that the debtor should not be liable for the charges relating to the time entry, with a concluding summary of the total amounts for each objection category.
2) Stryker and Howmedica shall file and serve on debtor's counsel its response to each of ...

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