03
Oct
2012-10-03_18h32_04

Just when you thought this whole Samsung vs. Apple case couldn't get any weirder, we're now hearing that Vel Hogan, the jury foreman on the case who helped guide the jurors on patent law and owns some patents himself, was once sued into bankruptcy by Seagate. Samsung, as it turns out, just happens to be the largest single investor in Seagate, owning 9.6 percent of the hard drive company's stock. While it doesn't guarantee that a juror's judgment could be clouded, it is the kind of information one would expect to be volunteered to a courtroom. Mr. Hogan, however, did not disclose this information.

According to official transcripts of the voir dire (a fancy phrase for "discussing potential juror biases" among other things), the jurors were all asked if "you or a family member or someone very close to you [has] ever been involved in a lawsuit, either as a plaintiff, a defendant, or as a witness?" Here is Mr. Hogan's response in full (PDF):

Mr. Hogan: In 2008, after my company went belly up, the programmer that worked for me filed a lawsuit against me and ultimately, across the next few months, it was dismissed and in such a fashion that neither one of us could sue the other one for that matter.
The Court: What was his -- what was the employee's claim?
Mr. Hogan: It was a dispute over the software that we had developed, whether it belonged to the company or to him, and I had documents that showed it belonged to the company. Ultimately, as I said, it would -- we settled out of court and it was dismissed.
The Court: All right. Anything about that experience that would affect your ability to be fair and impartial to both sides in this case?
Mr. Hogan: I don't believe so.
The Court: Okay. Was there any dispute -- was there any dispute as to who had created and invented the technology, or was it largely who had ownership of it?
Mr. Hogan: It was strictly who had ownership of it, and ultimately it was established that the company did have ownership of it, although -- and I still do -- although the company is not in business any longer.
The Court: I see. But was there a sort of dispute as to who had created or invented the technology as part of that ownership question?
Mr. Hogan: Yes, there was.
The Court: Um-hum.
Mr. Hogan: But like I said, we settled that -- because of documentation I had, we were able to settle it out of court and then we went back to court one last time for the dismissal paperwork.
The Court: Okay. All right. Thank you.

As you can see, there was no mention of the case involving Seagate at all. The case involving his employee was filed in 2008, yet the case against Seagate occurred in 1993. As the story goes, in the 80s, Hogan was hired by Seagate and moved from Colorado to California, at which time his new employer agreed to split the cost of paying off his mortgage. However, when Hogan was laid off in 1993, Seagate claimed that he owed the company the money for his mortgage. The two went to court and ultimately, Hogan had to file for bankruptcy in order to keep his home.

Now, a few things to point out: for starters, Samsung did not own any part of Seagate at the time of the case against Hogan. In fact, Samsung didn't begin its deal with Seagate until April of 2011, and it wasn't finalized until December of the same year. One might even be able to make the argument that Hogan was unaware of the connections between his former employer and the defendant.

However, what is clear is that there is potential here to doubt Hogan's judgment in a court of law. Had both parties known prior to the trial of Hogan's previous lawsuit, he might not have been allowed to be on the jury. As we know, he was instrumental in leading the jury, both as the foreman as a patent owner himself. Perhaps this trial may have gone very differently.

If that was the end of the story, though, it would still be scandalous enough. However, the question that is necessarily raised here is: how did Samsung find out about this old trial? Well, as it turns out, Michael F. Grady, the attorney who initially filed the lawsuit against Hogan on Seagate's behalf back in 1993 is now married to Diane M. Doolittle, a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, the law firm that represented Samsung in the trial.

The plot thickens.

Apple, naturally, wants to know just when Samsung came across this little revelation. With such a close in-house connection between the lawyers in the 1993 case and the current one against Apple, it's not difficult to imagine that Samsung's lawyers may have sat on this information, in case they lost to Apple, in an attempt to get the verdict thrown out if they didn't like how the trial went down. Or, at the very least, that's what Apple will try to prove.

2012-10-03_19h19_36

This is, in legal terms, playing hardball.

Though, if the issue is proving juror misconduct, Hogan may give Samsung an easy go of it. For starters, in an interview with Bloomberg, Hogan stated that the question about past cases had a ten-year limit on it, and that he was not legally required to present any information farther back than that. However, we can clearly see from the transcript above that this was not true. Furthermore, in a piece on Reuters (section B), Hogan stated that he initially brought legal action against Seagate, when in fact, it was the other way around. Seagate sued Hogan. Of course, none of these blog posts and public statements are admissible in court, but if Hogan has made mistakes like these off the record, it may be possible he's made more on the record.

Samsung could easily have the verdict for this case thrown out if it can prove that the jury foreman had a personal bias against Samsung that he deliberately failed to disclose while under oath. Of course, that isn't quite an open and shut case just yet, and obviously Apple will have some questions for how Samsung came to find out about this and why it wasn't brought up sooner. No matter what happens though, the drama continues to unfold at popcorn-eating levels.

Source: Groklaw, Bloomberg

Thanks Marcus!

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • Rob

    This is getting good. Hold on while I pop more popcorn. Coke or Pepsi, anyone? :P

    • http://them3blog.wordpress.com/ Abel

      I want A poptart :)

      • kpjackson

        Britney, Katy, or Miley?

  • http://robert.aitchison.org raitchison

    Samsung's lawyers failed miserably in letting this guy on the Jury, they probably could find better jurors than this in the line waiting for the release of the latest iProduct.

  • Tomi Golob

    Poetic justice?

  • toshistation

    An interesting premise, to intentionally allow a juror who you know might hold a personal bias into a case that you know might not go your way; and then (in case of a loss) to suddenly discover that, oh wow, hey, that guy had a vendetta against us...retrial?

    I'm not saying that's what happened, but hey, that'd be a crazy smart strategy if it is.

    • DCMAKER

      I personally find that very risky

      • leoingle

        WAAAY too risky.

    • DeadSOL

      I think that no lawyer would want to do that in a multi-billion dollar court case. What if, later, you can't prove a mis-trial? That's one hell of a risk to take. So... bollocks to that.

    • Mark

      It's interesting. The case is 10+ years old, Samsung had nothing to do with Seagate at the time, so it's possible this Juror was impartial. But sit on the information as a last case resort, an emergency possible-get-out-of-jail-free card. What does this mean as a whole though? If they do find this jury was tainted, will the judgement against Samsung be null and void? Will a whole new trial occur, one that Samsung may be able to win? Especially if allowed to submit their findings about Samsung's patenting of a similar prototype design before the original iPhone ever came out, or that Apple iPhone was Sony inspired.

  • http://twitter.com/psych2L Joseph Lee

    Looks like this jury *sunglasses*
    had a bad apple

    YEAAAAAAAAAH!

  • Droidfan

    Really, this stuff pales in comparison to what he actually did as the Foreman. Check out these two sites...http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120826/23534320161/applesamsung-jurors-admit-they-finished-quickly-ignoring-prior-art-other-key-factors.shtml and http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2012082510525390. He basically convinced the other jurors to ignore the instructions Judge Koh issued to insure a proper decision in the case. Jurors have reported that some saw prior art, but they got "bogged down" in deliberation. Vel Hogan had an "ah Ha" moment were he convinced himself and the other jurors to decide this as if they were in the shoes of the parties....despite instructions not to do that. Further, he is quoted after the trial...that the jurors felt compelled to "slap" Samsung hard enough to be sure other companies would get the message. Despite the fact that a successful complainant can not be awarded punitive damage. Only what is necessary to make his loss whole. Finally, there is significant doubt the jurors actually applied the Judge's instructions included in a 109 page document covering 80+ questions. By every credible source...the juror could not have used the Judge's instructions as they applied to the various infringement counts...in the short deliberation time available to them.

  • Ittiam

    This makes a good Hollywood thriller - "The revenge of the Juror" :-)

  • nicopretorius

    wonder if a juror was ever sued?

  • DeadSOL

    I want this guy to be punched really hard in the face. (>_>)

    I'll bet that was personal vendetta.

  • Matthew Fry

    I dunno. If Samsung was sitting on this, then this would be sort of a sour victory. Almost as though they knew they were going to lose and were holding on to this as a last hope of getting a mistrial. Anyway, I agree with Droidfan, the stuff he did as foreman was plenty bad enough. I don't understand how that alone can't be used to get the verdict thrown out.

  • denbo68

    ",,,,Hogan stated that the question about past cases had a ten-year limit on it,,,"

    The transcript said nothing about a 10 year limit. Hogan is lying. One juror even mentioned a lawsuit they had from 1986!

    From page 155 of the transcript: "PROSPECTIVE JUROR: WORK-RELATED LAWSUIT
    BACK IN 1986."

    Transcript is here: http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/uploadedFiles/Reuters_Content/2012/09_-_September/samsung--completejurorvoirdire.pdf

    • denbo68

      Let me change that... 'lied' is a harsh word. He appears incorrect based on the transcript.

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