[Update: Below, a July 22 post in which Minnesota Litigator queried how a case that seemed so simple and seemed to involve a relatively small sum of money (by federal civil litigation standards (at least when litigated by large firms)), could persist and, indeed, head for trial. The litigants’ trial briefs (here and here) in advance of the jury trial now scheduled before U.S. District Court Judge Patrick J. Schiltz (D. Minn.) in November seem to answer the question, above, about the case described below: “NO.” It also sheds light on how a year-plus fight over a $550,000 machine by two prominent national firms can be economically justified: plaintiff seeks multi-million dollars of consequential damages. (It appears, incidentally, that the case has been somewhat leanly staffed and with fairly restrained discovery and motion practice.)]
Over one year ago, Dakota Pasta Growers brought suit against Thiele, arguing that the for VT-600 Continuous Motion Vertical Cartoner that Dakota Pasta Growers bought for $549,327 in October, 2005 could not meet the express warranty of boxing 300 cartons of pasta per minute. From the complaint, it would appear that Thiele worked for some time with DPG before DPG gave up and sued.
Undoubtedly deeper knowledge of the case would bring some greater understanding of why these companies could not resolve what appears on its face as straightforward factual questions (Did they make the express warranty? Can the machine package 300 cartons/minute or not? 299??) but, from the outsider’s uninformed perspective, it is unclear how such a dispute warrants over one year of litigation, the fees, and now a scheduled trial in late 2010.
(An aside: Minnesota Litigator notes that the case pits Stoel Rives litigators against DLA Piper litigators — two relatively recent entries into the Twin Cities legal community (along with Barnes & Thornburgh, Fulbright & Jaworski, others?) — reflecting the increased competition to established Twin Cities-based large firms in recent years.)