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Total Rebuild Inc. v. PHC Fluid Power, L.L.C.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

December 17, 2019

TOTAL REBUILD, INC.
v.
PHC FLUID POWER, L.L.C.

          CAROL B. WHITEHURST MAG. JUDGE

          RULING

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is a Stipulation of Dismissal [Doc. No. 445] filed by Plaintiff Total Rebuild, Inc., (“Total Rebuild”) and Defendant PHC Fluid Power, LLC (“PHC”). Although it is styled a “Stipulation of Dismissal, ” the Court construes this filing as a motion for vacatur. Respondents Durio, McGoffin, Stagg, Ackermann, PC, Chase A. Manuel, Steven G. Durio, William W. Stagg, and Ryan Goudelocke (collectively “Respondents”) have filed an objection [Doc. No. 446]. PHC has filed a reply to Respondents' objection [Doc. No. 447]. Total Rebuild has filed an opposition to Respondents' objection [Doc. No. 448]. Respondents have filed a reply to PHC's reply and to Total Rebuild's objection [Doc. No. 449].

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This is a patent infringement case in which Total Rebuild contends systems and/or methods utilized by or through PHC infringe claims of United States Patent No. 8, 146, 428 (“the ‘428 Patent”). The ‘428 Patent is directed to systems and methods for safely testing devices and components under high-pressure.

         Following a bench trial on inequitable conduct, the Court issued an Opinion finding that the ‘428 Patent is unenforceable due to inequitable conduct, because the inventor, Mr. Terry Lavergne (“Lavergne”), withheld material information of prior sales form the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) with the specific intent to deceive the USPTO into granting the patent. [Doc. Nos. 388, 427]. Accordingly, on October 15, 2019, the Court rendered Judgment in favor of PHC and against Total Rebuild dismissing all claims of Total Rebuild against PHC with prejudice. [Doc. No. 428].

         On November 8, 2019, the Court issued a Ruling and Order [Doc. Nos. 440, 441], which (1) denied PHC's Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions and Other Relief against Total Rebuild and its counsel, the Respondents [Doc. No. 332]; (2) denied PHC's Motion for Attorney Fees, Expenses, and Costs under 35 U.S.C. § 285 against Total Rebuild and Lavergne [Doc. No. 399]; and (3) denied PHC's Motion for Attorney Fees, Expenses, and Costs under 28 U.S.C. § 1927 against Respondents [Doc. No. 401].

         On November 13, 2019, Total Rebuild filed a Notice of Appeal to the United States Court of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit [Doc. No. 443] appealing numerous pre-trial Rulings as well as the ultimate Rulings and Judgment [Doc. Nos. 388, 427, and 428].

         On December 5, 2019, Total Rebuild and PHC filed the pending motion for vacatur [Doc. No. 445], in which they request that the Court vacate its inequitable conduct rulings in this case [Doc. Nos. 388, 427 and 428] and further request that the Court vacate its ruling and order denying PHC's motions for sanctions, attorney fees, expenses, and costs [Doc. Nos. 440, 441], all based on their settlement.

         On December 6, 2019, Respondents filed an opposition [Doc. No. 446] in which they object solely to vacatur of the Court's ruling and order denying PHC's motions for sanctions, attorney fees, expenses, and costs against Respondents [Doc. Nos. 440, 441].

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Jurisdiction

         First, the Court notes that, once an appeal is noticed, it does not have jurisdiction to dismiss a case pursuant to a stipulation. Generally, once an appeal is noticed, the district court is divested of jurisdiction and the matter is transferred immediately to the appellate court. Farmhand v. Anel Engineering Industries, Inc., 1140');">693 F.2d 1140, 1145 (5th Cir. 1982); Mazurek v. United States, 2001 WL 616668 (E.D. La. April 20, 2001).

         In Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56 (1982), the United States Supreme Court set forth the principle that the filing of a notice of appeal is an event of jurisdictional significance--it confers jurisdiction on the court of appeals and divests the district court of its control over those aspects of the case involved in the appeal. Id. at 58; see also Gundacker v. Unisys Corp.,151 F.3d 842');">151 ...


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