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MacDermid Printing Solutions LLC v. Cortron Corp.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 18, 2017

MACDERMID PRINTING SOLUTIONS, LLC Plaintiff,
v.
CORTRON CORPORATION Defendant.

          RULING ON CALCULATION OF COMPENSATORY AND PUNITIVE DAMAGES FOLLOWING REMAND

          MICHAEL P. SHEA, U.S.D.J.

         I. Introduction

         In this long-running commercial dispute involving claims of breach of contract and alleged violations of trade secrets, unfair trade practices, and antitrust laws, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the antitrust portion of a $64 million judgment entered after a jury verdict in favor of MacDermid Printing Solutions, LLC (“MacDermid”). MacDermid Printing Solutions LLC v. Cortron Corp., 833 F.3d 172 (2d Cir. 2016). The Court of Appeals remanded the case to this Court, with a directive “to recalculate damages in a manner consistent with” its opinion. (ECF No. 492 at 1.) The parties now dispute what this directive means as it applies to this case. According to MacDermid, it means that I must restore a portion of the jury's damages award on an unfair trade practices claim that I had eliminated, post-verdict and pre-appeal, as duplicative of the damages award on the antitrust claims, to account for the fact that the Second Circuit has reversed the judgment on the antitrust claims. (ECF No. 500 at 6.) MacDermid argues that liability for unfair trade practices is broader than liability for antitrust violations and, thus, the Circuit's opinion reversing the judgment on the antitrust claims is no obstacle to reinstating the jury's original damages award on the unfair trade practice claims - which can no longer be considered duplicative. (Id. at 13-15.) Defendant Cortron Corp. (“Cortron”) counters that (1) the Circuit's mandate prohibits a restoration of damages on the unfair trade practices claim, which was not part of the appeal, (2) MacDermid's acceptance of my post-verdict remittitur of the damages on the unfair trade practices claim bars reviving those damages now, (3) MacDermid's arguments are barred by the doctrine of judicial estoppel, and (4) MacDermid's argument fails on the merits, because the unfair trade practices claim was merely derivative of the antitrust claims. (ECF No. 499 at 6.) I agree with Cortron's first two arguments and do not address the remaining arguments. I therefore recalculate compensatory and punitive damages in this action as follows:

Compensatory Damages

Breach of Contract

$4, 112, 970.00

CUTPA

$0.00

CUTSA

$3, 790, 939.00

Computer Crime

$29, 970.00

Total

$7, 933, 879.00

Punitive Damages

Breach of Contract

$0.00

CUTPA

$100, 000.00

CUTSA

$3, 790, 939.00

Computer Crime

$0.00

Total

$3, 890, 939.00

Total Compensatory and Punitive Damages

$11, 824, 818.00[1]

         II. Background

         The facts of this case are set forth in the Second Circuit's opinion, familiarity with which is presumed. A brief procedural history follows. In September 2008, MacDermid filed suit against Cortron in state court, alleging claims for breach of contract and for violations of state and federal antitrust laws, the Connecticut Uniform Trade Secrets Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. §§35-50 to 35-58 (“CUTSA”), the Connecticut computer crime statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 53a-251, 52-570b, and the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 42-110a et seq. (“CUTPA”). Cortron removed the case to this Court and filed various counter-claims. The case was tried to a jury, which found in favor of MacDermid and against Cortron on its counterclaims. (ECF No. 408.) The jury awarded MacDermid $35, 423, 997 in compensatory damages. MacDermid Printing Solutions LLC v. Cortron Corp., 2015 WL 251527 at *21 (D. Conn. Jan. 20, 2015), aff'd in part and rev'd in part, 833 F.3d 172 (2d Cir. 2016).

         Following the jury's verdict, I denied Cortron's motion for judgment as a matter of law and its motion for a new trial on the condition that MacDermid agree to a remitted award of $19, 757, 854 in compensatory damages. In reducing MacDermid's compensatory damages award of $35, 423, 997, I determined that the component of this award reflecting the verdict on the CUTPA claim - $11, 875, 204 - “included amounts equal to the damages on the breach of contract count ($7, 903, 909), and computer crimes count ($29, 970), as well as a remainder equal to one-third of the antitrust damages ($3, 941, 325).” Id. at *16. Because “the entirety of the CUTPA award [was] duplicative” and “the injuries underlying [the] amounts [were] compensated elsewhere in the verdict”, I concluded that the CUTPA award should be remitted in its entirety, i.e., to zero. Id.

         On January 22, 2015, MacDermid accepted the remittitur, “expressly accepting the modified compensatory award in the amount of $19, 757, 854, and foregoing its right to a new trial on damages.” (ECF No. 468 at 1.) On February 17, 2015, I entered final judgment in favor of MacDermid in the amount of $64, 670, 821, representing “$19, 757, 854 in compensatory damages, $27, 538, 889 in punitive damages, $2, 641, 587 in attorney's fees, and $14, 732, 491 in offer-of-compromise interest.” (ECF No. 471.) The punitive damages consisted of an amount equal to twice the antitrust damages, plus $3, 790, 939 under CUTSA and $100, 000 under CUTPA. MacDermid, 2015 WL 251527 at *20.

         Cortron appealed, arguing that I had erred in “(1) denying Cortron a new trial or judgment as a matter of law on [MacDermid's] antitrust claims; (2) permitting MacDermid to present evidence of its lawyers' patent advice; (3) concluding that the jury's identical awards on each of the antitrust claims were not duplicative; and (4) failing to remit or order a new trial on damages regarding the antitrust and trade-secret claims.” MacDermid, 833 F.3d at 177. The Second Circuit held that Cortron was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on MacDermid's antitrust claims “because MacDermid failed to present evidence that Cortron's conduct harmed competition, ” id. at 178, but rejected the challenges to the admission of evidence regarding legal advice and the denial of remittitur, and found it unnecessary to address Cortron's remaining arguments. The Second Circuit's opinion concludes with the following paragraph:

[W]e REVERSE the judgment of the District Court insofar as it denied Cortron's post-verdict motion for judgment as a matter of law on MacDermid's antitrust claims. We otherwise AFFIRM the judgment of the District Court, leaving undisturbed the award of damages on MacDermid's state law claims for misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair trade practices, computer crimes, and breach of contract. We REMAND the cause to the District Court to recalculate damages in a manner consistent with this opinion.

Id. at 192.

         After receipt of the mandate, on October 12, 2016, I issued an order proposing new damages figures for a revised judgment. (ECF No. 493.) The proposed figures were the same as those shown in the table set forth above. (See footnote 1, supra.) After MacDermid filed a notice objecting to, and Cortron filed a notice accepting, the proposed damages calculation, I ordered supplemental briefing. (ECF No. 496.)

         III. Discussion

         The parties dispute whether the Second Circuit's mandate requires reinstatement of the portion of the jury's CUTPA award I found to be duplicative of the later-reversed antitrust award. MacDermid contends that that portion, which amounts to $3, 941, 325, must be included in the revised judgment, pointing out that I remitted that portion only because I found those damages duplicative of the ...


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