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The tight-fisted jury in Connecticut’s biggest Microsoft case may have gotten it wrong. At least that’s what Bridgeport U.S. District Court Judge Janet C. Hall seems to be saying. The jury deliberated briefly in August 1999, finding no antitrust violations. It awarded a paltry $1 in damages to Danbury’s Bristol Technology, Inc. for Microsoft’s unfair trade practice violations in withholding the Windows computer code that Bristol needed to make its software. Since this summer, Hall has added more than $4.7 million to Bristol’s award, and may not stop there. She granted a record $1 million in punitive damages on Aug. 31, and on Nov. 3, she ruled that Bristol is entitled to $2,979,621.42 in legal fees and $750,806.67 in costs, which state experts say is the highest amount ever awarded under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. The combined awards increase the original $1 to $4,730,428.09. Significantly, Hall also rendered partial final judgment in the case at the same time, finding Bristol the prevailing party on the CUTPA issue. This opens the way for Bristol to seek a new trial on the anti-trust portion of its case. The jury avoided having to consider complex antitrust issues by stating that Bristol failed to prove the existence of specific markets for Windows products in high-end computing. John L. Altieri, Jr., of O’Melveny & Meyers, a Connecticut lawyer on Bristol’s national litigation team, said he was gratified by Hall’s fee award. David B. Tulchin, Microsoft’s lead trial attorney in the case, said Microsoft will probably appeal the adverse rulings — Hall’s punitive award, her award of fees and costs, and the sole CUTPA count that Bristol won. An order for entry of judgment that Hall granted Nov. 3 is only partial, Tulchin says. It does not include Microsoft’s claims against Bristol, which Hall ordered tried at a later date. Bristol’s lawyers generally earned Hall’s praise. The case involved close to one million pages of documents, Altieri said, and required coordination of lawyers based in Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York, and Stamford. Despite a globe-circling trial team, “the number of interoffice conferences was not excessive and actually less than the court would have expected,” Hall wrote. She found very few items in the fee request to be excessive or redundant, and said part of the difficulty of the case was caused by demanding deadlines, which Microsoft twice asked to delay. The software giant said it was unable to prepare for trial in the time allotted, Hall wrote, “despite having as counsel the largest firm in Connecticut and a quite capable New York City firm.” She observed in a footnote that Microsoft was well defended, sometimes fielding as many as eight “timekeepers” in court simultaneously. Microsoft’s Connecticut counsel is Hartford-based Day, Berry & Howard. Hall found some excesses. She considered Altieri’s rates of $470 per hour in 1998 and $500 in 1999 too high by Connecticut standards, and cut it to $375 per hour for 1,598 hours in 1999 and 2000. The judge concluded that Bristol got “excellent lawyering.” However, she noted that Bristol sought $200 million and was only awarded $1, and that it failed to get the preliminary injunction that it sought, requiring Microsoft to turn over the source code to Windows. Thus, she reduced the fee award to O’Melveny and Anthony Clapes’ Technology Law Network by $112,000 and $4,800 respectively. O’Melveny’s fee total was $2,644,166.02 and Clapes’ was $335,455.40. CUTPA MILESTONE David L. Belt, a CUTPA specialist who is not connected to the case, said he believed this fee award to be the highest ever granted under the act. Belt is a partner in New Haven’s Jacobs, Grudberg, Belt & Dow. The record punitive and fee awards in this case, he says, show that “CUTPA can be used for high-stakes commercial litigation.” CUTPA, he says, has better remedies than antitrust law, and its standards of liability are still evolving. Robert M. Langer, of the Hartford office of Wiggin & Dana, agrees that the fee award appears to be a record. He adds that Hall’s awards demonstrate CUTPA’s considerable usefulness in cases between businesses. Langer and Belt are two of the authors of The Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.

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