April 24, 2009 9:00 AM
The Am Law Litigation Daily: April 24, 2009
Posted by Andrew Longstreth
Litigator of the Week
Arturo Gonzalez of Morrison & Foerster
On Wednesday a jury in Santa Clara County superior court awarded $36.3 million to Hansen Medical in a trade-secrets case against Luna Innovations. From what we gather, the closing argument from Hansen's lawyer, Arturo Gonzalez of Morrison & Foerster, was an impressive performance. According to The Recorder, Gonzalez compared Luna to a cheating husband and sported a tie bearing a wolf howling at the moon.
Here's the background of the case: In 2006 Hansen signed an agreement with Luna to develop a robotic catheter used in heart surgery. In a suit filed in 2007, Hansen alleged Luna broke that agreement and signed a more lucrative deal with a competitor. Hansen's claims included breach of contract, fraud, good faith and fair dealing, and trade secrets. The jury found for Hansen on all counts except fraud. Luna was defended by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
On Thursday we spoke with Gonzalez, our Litigator of the Week. First, we asked about the wolf tie. Gonzalez said he doesn't like wearing ties. In fact, he stopped wearing them to the office 20 years ago. (He claims to have started casual day, but that's another story.) "I appreciate when I go to court, I need to wear a tie," he said. "So I said what I'll do as a small protest, I'll pick my own ties....I get ties that I think people will enjoy, that are different, that are unique."
As Gonzalez tells us, that includes ties with animals. During the Hansen trial, he wore ties that featured a charging elephant, zebras, and tigers. "That's been my M.O. for 20 years."
The animal-themed ties worked out well with a few of the jurors. During voir dire, three of the women jurors stated that they were strongly against animal testing, one of the issues that came up during the trial. Gonzalez made the critical decision not to try to knock them off the jury even though Hansen does animal testing. "There were a few times during the trial where I thought Luna's attorneys [at Wilson Sonsini] were using the phrase 'animal testing' perhaps more than they needed to. And every time that came up, you ask yourself, 'Gee, did I do the right thing here?' But we felt strongly that the case was not about animal testing, and we felt we could persuade them of that."
And what about his closing arguments? "I start thinking about the closing argument the day I'm assigned to a case," Gonzalez told us. He said the idea of comparing Luna to a cheating husband came to him right away. "That really is the way I always viewed this case," he said. "Here we are the faithful party doing everything we can to make this work...and there they are talking to all these other people about cutting a deal."
Gonzalez's closing included 140 pages of PowerPoint slides. After the trial, some jurors told the MoFo trial team they were on the fence and the closing pushed them over. "That was good to hear," said Gonzalez. "Our team spent a lot of hours putting that PowerPoint together. It was a real team effort. I was up until 3 in the morning with one associate the night before the closing, finalizing [it]."
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Edited by Andrew LongstrethMake a comment