• September 26, 2013

Update (September 25, 2013):  A good win for Winthrop & Weinstinebeing awarded over $327,000 in attorneys’ fees.  Congratulations to trial lawyers, Brent Lorentz and Bob Weinstine.  The next challenge is collection…

Update (May 3, 2013): OW!  For the sake of the lawyers and the law firm involved, one hopes that Patterson Thuente did not take this multi-year and hard fought case on a contingent fee for plaintiff Douglas Reuter.  (For the sake of Mr. Reuter, one would hope the reverse, of course — that Patterson Thuente rather than Reuter will bear the brunt of the loss.)  

Plaintiff Reuter lost the case (discussed below in previous posts), he lost badly, and now, ML predicts, he (or maybe his counsel, maybe in part???) will have the distasteful come-uppance of paying for his adversary’s fairly substantial attorneys’ fees.  (The issue is briefed here and here.)  (Reuter’s defense is based on the claim that the settlement agreement that provided for fee-shifting specifically excluded declaratory judgment actions and his original complaint only sought a declaratory judgment.  But Reuter’s “DJ” action was transparently a wolf in sheep’s clothing (that is, a claim for money damages masquerading as a claim for declaratory relief)).

It is premature to congratulate Jax and its counsel, the Twin Cities large firm of Winthrop & Weinstine (W&W), on the resounding win but I am not superstitious: congratulations.  This should help alleviate the result in ouroboros, another W&W case which, ML imagines, was a W&W contingent fee gamble that did not end up profitable for the firm when the lawsuit settled recently after years of costly litigation.

Update (December 20, 2012):  Well over a year ago, Minnesota Litigator noted the case of Reuter v. Jax, where Defendant Jax got Douglas Reuter’s case against it thrown out but Jax had a challenge dropping its own counterclaims against Reuter.

The litigants had an agreement about a board game dating back to 1981, which has made them all a great deal of money, but has also been the origin of about a decade of disputes (making a few lawyers richer, of course).  The appeal of Jax’s win was finally argued before the 8th Circui U.S. Court of Appeals last week.  Dennis Reuter argued for Douglas Reuter and Thomas Boyd for Jax.

It is not looking good for appellant Douglas Reuter and he might want to consider working on a game other than the litigation game.

Original post (October 11, 2011):  (Under the subject line, “Hoisted With Their Own Petard”):  “For tis the sport to have the engineer Hoist with his own petard,” Shakespeare’s Hamlet said as he deflected his adversary’s strategy causing it to blow up in the adversary’s face (Uncle Claude, or Step-Dad, that is).

In modern English, Hamlet’s point was that there is justice (and, therefore, pleasure in the beholding) when an attacker’s scheme backfires.  (Here is an explanation of the original term).

“Too clever by half,” is another smug phrase more often thought than spoken by litigators when their adversaries’ attacks result in nothing but a self-inflicted wound.

Plaintiff Douglas Reuter sued defendant Jax, Ltd., related to a board-game licensing dispute but Jax won its motion for summary judgment against Reuter’s claim.

So far, so good. (For Jax.)

But with 20/20 hindsight, Jax probably wishes that it did not conjure up a counterclaim against Reuter when Reuter sued Jax.

The counterclaim appears to have been the game within a game about a game, and, as is often the case in nested games, a winner can be a loser one one level or another.

Jax’s exit strategy has been complicated by the fact that it has won the case brought against it and cannot so easily walk away from the case that Jax itself brought against Reuter.

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