Accenture Cert Petition Challenges Trial On Trade Secrets With ‘Unqualified’ Expert
By Tony Dutra
March 5 — Accenture LLP filed a petition for writ of certiorari on March 4 in Accenture, LLP v. Wellogix, Inc. (U.S., No. 13-1051, review sought 3/4/14), appealing a May 15 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on expert testimony in a trade secret misappropriation case.
A jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas found misappropriation by Accenture for using Wellogix Inc.’s source code to build a product that directly competed with Wellogix’s services. It awarded $26.2 million in compensatory damages and $68.2 million in punitive damages, but the district court reduced the punitive award to $18.2 million.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed, deferring to the lower court’s decisions regarding expert testimony presented to the jury. Wellogix Inc. v. Accenture LLP, 716 F.3d 867, 2013 BL 129992, 106 U.S.P.Q.2d 1796 (5th Cir. 2013).
Accenture’s cert petition began by saying that “Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides that a witness ‘who is qualified as an expert’ may testify only if ‘the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data’ and ‘the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.’ ”
The question presented, then, is:
whether Rule 702 requires a court, and not the jury, to decide whether expert testimony is “based on sufficient facts or data” and “reliably applie[s] … principles and methods to the facts of the case,” and to set aside a jury verdict that rests on expert testimony that fails to meet these fundamental requirements.
Carter G. Phillips of Sidley Austin LLP, Washington, D.C., filed the petition. A response is due April 3. Wellogix was represented by Richard Russell Hollenbeck of Wright & Close, Houston, in the case below.
Petition is available at http://pub.bna.com/ptcj/131051petition.pdf.
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