Judge Sanctions 6 Qualcomm Lawyers for Not Turning Over Evidence
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
A federal magistrate on Monday ordered six attorneys who represented Qualcomm Inc. in the chipmaker's failed patent lawsuit against rival Broadcom Corp. be investigated by the State Bar of California for failing to turn over thousands of documents.
The lawyers "assisted Qualcomm in committing this incredible discovery violation by intentionally hiding or recklessly ignoring relevant documents," U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Major wrote in her 48-page ruling. "The sanctioned attorneys then used the lack of evidence to repeatedly and forcefully make false statements and arguments to the court and jury."
Major referred attorneys James Batchelder, Adam Bier, Kevin Leung, Christopher Manmen, Lee Patch and Stanley Young to the California bar for investigation into possible ethical violations.
Broadcom declined to comment. A Qualcomm spokeswoman said the company regrets the errors, but denied it engaged in any "intentional misconduct" and is considering its options, including further appeal.
The judge also issued an $8.5 million judgment against Qualcomm, though she said that amount already had been covered in another judge's order to cover Broadcom's legal fees.
Qualcomm originally sued Irvine-based Broadcom in October 2005 for allegedly infringing two patents on video-compression technology.
During the final days of trial, a senior Qualcomm engineer disclosed that she had e-mails related to the case that hadn't been turned over to Broadcom. Following the trial, thousands more documents were discovered. Qualcomm's general counsel apologized and later resigned.
Major ordered 19 Qualcomm lawyers to appear at a hearing in October to defend their actions. The lawyers insisted they had no intention of deliberately withholding evidence.
She did not sanction the other 13 attorneys involved in the case for Qualcomm.
Qualcomm is the world's second-largest chip supplier for cell phones after Texas Instruments Inc., while Broadcom is a relative newcomer to the cell phone business.