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Manufacturing

Contact a Manufacturing Attorney

Overview

Stoll Keenon Ogden is well versed in the many complex issues that face the manufacturing industry. Our experienced attorneys work with manufacturers of various sizes and products to provide the best legal solutions to the diverse needs of the industry. We also have the advantage of in-house resources from other practices such as business services, public utility, banking, public finance and intellectual property to help resolve matters that come to our clients’ attention.

From manufacturers of tools and high-tech equipment to those that produce food, beverage and healthcare products to chemical manufacturers, our clients rely on the SKO team to provide sound legal solutions.

Our services involve:

  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Intellectual property issues
  • Financing
  • Employment and employee benefits
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Real estate
  • Environmental issues
  • Contracts and agreements
  • Risk management

Work Highlights

Patent Infringement, False Advertisement & Antitrust

Static Control Components, Inc., et al. v. Lexmark International, Inc., et al., Case No. 04-84-GFVT (Consolidated with Action No. 02-571) (E.D. Ky) (multiple published decisions)

This multi-party, complex litigation involved Lexmark, a major provider of printing and imaging products and services. Lexmark asserted claims for, among other things, patent infringement and inducement to commit patent infringement. The lead opposing party, Static Control Components, asserted claims against Lexmark for, among other things, antitrust violations under the Sherman Act and Clayton Act and false advertising claims under the Lanham Act. Lexmark obtained dismissal of the Sherman Act and Clayton Act antitrust claims and a favorable ruling upholding Lexmark’s single-use restriction on its printer cartridges under the Uniform Commercial Code. On June 3, 2013 the United States Supreme Court granted Lexmark’s petition for writ of certiorari to resolve a circuit split on the proper test for standing to assert Lanham Act false advertising claims.  Steven argued the case in front of the Supreme Court on December 3, 2013.

Patent Infringement, False Advertisement & Antitrust

Lexmark International, Inc. v. Impression Products, et al., Case No. 10-564-MRB (S.D. of Ohio)

SKO, along with Sidley Austin LLP and Banner & Witcoff, represented Lexmark in a closely-watched patent case at the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. In a dispute brought by Lexmark over remanufactured printer cartridges, the Federal Circuit held in Lexmark’s favor on domestic and international patent exhaustion issues.  The case is now pending before the United States Supreme Court and will be argued on March 21, 2017.

Shareholder Class Action

Margie Elstein v. Lexmark International, Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 16-CI-02380 (Fayette Circuit Court)

SKO represented Lexmark in successfully dismissing a proposed class action lawsuit filed by a shareholder claiming Lexmark’s merger agreement with a consortium of investors was unfair to shareholders. The lawsuit was filed less than a month before Lexmark’s scheduled shareholder vote.  After the lawsuit was filed, the plaintiff sought a temporary injunction enjoining the shareholder vote.  Steven argued that the case should be dismissed because Lexmark’s bylaws require the case be heard in the Delaware Chancery Courts.  A mere three days before the scheduled shareholder vote, the Court dismissed the lawsuit and the shareholder vote occurred as scheduled.

Related Practices: Class Action, Business Litigation

Patent Infringement

Lexmark International, Inc., et al. v. Pitney Bowes Inc., et al., Case No. 001-237-JMH (E.D. Ky.)

Successful litigation involving patent infringement claims against Lexmark relating to print quality enhancement technology. Lexmark obtained summary judgment, dramatically limiting the products at issue on the basis of failure to mark or provide actual notice under 35 U.S.C. § 287. The case was settled after the Court’s ruling.

Patent Infringement

Lexmark International, Inc. v. Laserland, Inc., 304 F.Supp.2d 913 (E.D. Ky. 2004)

Represented Lexmark in a patent infringement lawsuit, and established new personal jurisdiction law in the Sixth Circuit relating to interactive websites; case settled.

Warranty and Products Liability

John F. Ruggles, Jr., Inc. v. Ventex Tech., Inc., No. 09-141, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79816 (E.D. Ky. Jul. 21, 2011)

Obtained complete defense summary judgment for client in case involving breach of warranty claims against manufacturer of electronic transformers used in commercial signage.

Related Practices: Business Litigation

Antitrust, Robinson-Patman Act

Successfully defended manufacturer of lawn and garden equipment against Robinson-Patman Act claims in distribution before Sixth Circuit and District Court.  New Albany Tractor, Inc. v. Louisville Tractor, Inc., 650 F. 3d 1046 (2011); New Albany Tractor, Inc., v. Louisville Tractor, Inc., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 352, (U.S.D.C. W.D. Ky. 2010).

Civil Rights – Age Discrimination

SKO successfully defended a Fortune 500 company that was being sued in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky by a former employee alleging age discrimination.  The former employee claimed that the company violated the Kentucky Civil Rights Act when it selected him, and not a younger co-worker, for layoff during a company-wide reduction in force.  The plaintiff sought lost wages of more than $100,000, emotional distress damages of $1,300,000, and an award of attorney’s fees.  This case was noteworthy because it included so-called “direct evidence” of age discrimination: an audio recording that plaintiff had secretly made of his conversation with his supervisor, wherein the supervisor could be heard telling the plaintiff that he was being laid off because of his age.

After a four day trial in August 2014, a seven member jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the company, finding that the company had not engaged in unlawful discrimination.  SKO’s trial team won the case by proving to the jury that the company had a well conceived plan for the reduction in force that was properly implemented, and that the plaintiff’s termination was actually motivated by his job performance, which did not compare favorably with the younger co-worker.  The Company also showed that the supervisor’s recorded statements about age were intended to avoid hurting the plaintiff’s feelings by telling him with the true reason for his layoff.

Sales and Use Tax

Successfully defended an auto parts manufacturer in a sales and use tax audit that saved the company in excess of $5 million.

Related Practices: Tax

Acquisition of Aggregate Processing & Handling Business

Represented a holding company in its acquisition of a business that designs, fabricates, installs and maintains aggregate processing and handling equipment.

Stock Split for Publicly-Traded Company

Stock split in the form of a Stock Dividend for an NYSE-listed issuer with two-classes of listed stock, including accompanying proxy solicitation, registration with NYSE and public disclosure guidance.

Product Liability, Explosion & Failure to Warn

Successfully represented a manufacturing client, whose factory was destroyed by an explosion caused by a vendor’s product. The seven-week trial resulted in $122 million verdict, the single largest award of compensatory damages by a jury in Kentucky history.

Product Liability: Negligent Design, Manufacture, and Maintenance of Heavy Equipment

Successfully represented the estate, widow, and children of a farm employee killed while operating heavy machinery. Matter settled for policy limits prior to filing suit.

Premises Liability: Alleged Negligent Failure to Maintain Safe Business Premises

Obtained a Summary Judgment dismissal on behalf of a manufacturing client, based upon Kentucky’s “Up the Ladder” defense. Plaintiff truck driver, who had slipped and fallen, claimed that the premises were not appropriately maintained.

Breach of Contract Prosecution

Successfully prosecuted a breach of contract claim under the indemnity provisions of a purchase and sale agreement.

Patent Applications for Designs & Inventions

SKO prepared, filed and prosecuted patent applications for clients' inventions and designs in a wide variety of subject matter areas. Examples include exercise apparatus; floor treating machines; electronic monitoring systems; gardening systems; shelving designs; tool designs; and various mechanical, electrical and electromechanical systems, devices and methods.

Superfund Site Guidance, Superfund Investigation

Advised client in negotiations with Potentially Responsible Parties, EPA and Kentucky state regulatory authorities in major Superfund investigation.

Trademark Registration

SKO prepared, filed and prosecuted trademark applications for clients in a variety of industries including manufacturing, healthcare, equine, restaurants and other service-based businesses, and nonprofit organizations.

Dismissal of RCRA Citizen Suit

Obtained dismissal of a RCRA Citizen Suit under the Burford Abstention doctrine by arguing that existing state administrative proceedings covered the same issues

Patent Review & Analysis

SKO regularly represents clients in the artificial turf surfaces industry regarding the review and analysis of patents in that industry. This representation involves performing detailed analyses and providing advice about whether our clients' and their competitors’ products are covered by the claims of various patents in the industry, as well as negotiating agreements with the owners of several of those patents. 

Circle Environmental CERCLA Claim

Successfully resolved EPA cost recovery claim against multiple Potentially Responsible Parties arising out of the EPA’s cleanup of a waste oil facility.

Distributorship Agreement; Substantial & Common Law Damages

SKO represented an international manufacturer of construction equipment in a lawsuit concerning a challenge by a distributor to a termination of a distributorship agreement and claims for substantial statutory and common law damages as well as injunctive relief to require rescission of the termination. At the outset of the dispute, SKO was successful in having an action filed by the distributor dismissed and allowing the litigation to proceed in federal court in Kentucky. SKO later obtained a summary judgment ruling in the manufacturer’s favor on all counts. This federal action involved potential major implications for the manufacturer and its relationship with its distributors around the world.

Automobile Franchise Litigation, Breach of Franchise Agreement, Bad Faith, Fraud & Deceptive Practices

SKO successfully represented an automobile manufacturer against claims of breach of franchise agreement, bad faith, breach of contract, fraud, and deceptive practices brought by a former franchised dealer. The claims involved complex issues relating to the manufacturer’s allocation and distribution policies of new automobiles to franchised dealers, as well as claims involving oral promises of a new dealership. After achieving summary judgment in the client's favor, resolving all claims except the breach of franchise agreement claim, the jury found on our client's favor after trial.

Breach of Contract

SKO represented an insurance company that was being sued in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky by a paper products manufacturer for breach of an insurance contract. The manufacturer alleged that it had proven a covered loss under an employee theft policy and the insurer disagreed and denied many elements of the claim. At the trial court level, the manufacturer willfully violated multiple discovery orders and the court dismissed the manufacturer’s claims as a sanction. After the dismissal, the trial court denied the insurer’s motion for fees incurred litigating the dispute. The manufacturer appealed the trial court’s denial to the Sixth Circuit and the insurer cross-appealed the denial of fees. After briefing on the first appeal had concluded, the parties resolved all matters amicably. While the case did not result in an appellate decision, SKO was successful in preserving an important district court opinion levying a rare dismissal sanction for discovery misconduct.
Related Practices: Business Litigation, Appellate

Sale of California-based Wine Business

Represented a major wine and spirits corporation in the sale of its Hopland, California-based wine brands to another business based in Santiago, Chile. The $238 million transaction was structured as a stock purchase.

Violations of Agreements and Restrictive Covenants

SKO represented a provider of specialty patient care equipment that sued a consultant and its consulting business after an agreed upon Asset Purchase Agreement and Consulting Agreement’s restrictive covenants had been violated by the consultant. The provider sued for both monetary damages and injunctive relief. The Jefferson Circuit Court granted the provider’s motion for a temporary injunction against the consultant under the Consulting Agreement, but denied the motion for a temporary injunction against the consultant under the Asset Purchase Agreement. Because the Asset Purchase Agreement provided greater injunctive protection, the provider filed an interlocutory appeal pursuant to CR 65.07. The Kentucky Court of Appeals agreed with the provider that the Jefferson Circuit Court had erred in denying injunctive relief under the Asset Purchase Agreement, and reversed the Jefferson Circuit Court’s decision on that issue. This was a notable decision because the standard of review for a party seeking interlocutory relief from a trial court’s decision to grant or deny a temporary injunction is a clear abuse of discretion.

Sale of Manufacturing Company

Represented the owners of a manufacturer of fire proof file cabinets, safes and other security products in the sale of the company to a similar manufacturer.

Workers’ Compensation Retaliation

SKO represented a manufacturer and distributor of auto supplies that was sued for workers’ compensation retaliation under the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Act, KRS Chapter 342. The United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky entered summary judgment in favor of the manufacturer, from which the plaintiff did not appeal.

Industry Involvement

Associated General Contractors of Kentucky
Kentucky Association of Manufacturers

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