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Dwelling on the dull minutiae of complicated communications technology is a sure-fire way to lose a jury. Such was the risk that Dan K. Webb knew he faced when he took on Vonage Holdings Corp. on behalf of Verizon in a high-stakes battle over Internet telephone technology. “If a jury’s confused, the plaintiff loses the case,” said Webb, chairman of Chicago’s Winston & Strawn. Evidently, the jury was able to keep up. In March, Webb won a $58 million verdict for Verizon in a three-week patent infringement trial before a jury of four men and four women in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The jury also awarded his client a royalty of 5.5% of Vonage’s gross revenue. The case is on appeal. Verizon Services Inc. v. Vonage Holdings Corp., No. cv1:06-cv-682 (E.D. Va.). For Webb, it was all about keeping it simple. “You have to empower a jury to understand what you’re saying,” he said. The Verizon win is one in a string of successes for Webb. He has tried over 100 jury cases, including U.S. v. Philip Morris USA, No. 99-cv-02496, a case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in which he helped the tobacco giant avoid paying billions for smoking cessation programs and an anti-smoking campaign. Webb also is representing the New York Stock Exchange in People v. Grasso, No. 0401620 (2006). In an action in New York state trial court, the New York Attorney General’s Office alleges that the $187 million pay package for Richard Grasso, the former NYSE chairman and chief executive officer, was unreasonable. Grasso has cross-claimed against NYSE, seeking, among other things, $48 million in compensation. Some of Webb’s other corporate clients include Cisco Systems Inc., General Electric Co., Microsoft Corp., Owens Corning and many more. A ‘quiet confidence’ What makes him exceptional is his “amazing capacity to comprehend all manner of things,” said Charles Kocoras, a senio judge, and former chief judge, for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Coupled with that capacity is Webb’s talent for putting complicated details “in their proper place in the presentation of a case,” the judge said. Kocoras, who has seen Webb in action several times during his 27 years as a federal judge, describes him as a “workaholic” who “doesn’t leave anything to chance.”
TRIAL TIPS • Develop a theory of the case that can lead you to victory and do not deviate from it. • Simplify the case so that jurors understand your position. • Find a way to communicate with jurors so that they come to like you.

Webb himself says he aims for a style of “quiet confidence” in the courtroom. “When I get up in front of a jury, I want nothing to happen that I ever appear to be bewildered by.” In addition to his work as a trial attorney, Webb is the top man at Winston & Strawn, which has about 900 attorneys in nine offices. He joined the firm in 1985, after serving as the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. The job as chairman is an unusual one for litigators, since trials can command their full attention for months at a time. Webb said he weighs in on “huge issues” that affect the firm, while the firm’s managing partner, Thomas Fitzgerald, handles most of the day-to-day details. Earlier this year, Webb was busy with other huge issues as lead counsel in the Verizoncase. In March, the jury found that Vonage Holdings Corp. and Vonage America Inc. had infringed on three of five Verizon patents, though it did not find that Vonage had done so willfully, which would have entitled Verizon to treble damages. Wins injunction Following the verdict, Webb moved for a permanent injunction to prevent further infringement, a request that the court granted, although it issued a partial stay allowing Vonage to continue servicing its millions of existing customers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit later issued a full stay of the permanent injunction pending an appeal. Oral arguments for the appeal are scheduled for later this month. Vonage is expected to argue that the trial judge’s instructions to the jury involving the bounds of the patents at issue were flawed. In addition, Vonage likely will argue that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in KSR International Co. v. Teleflex Inc., No. 04-1350, should serve to overturn the verdict based on the standard the high court used to determine a patent’s obviousness. Roger Warin, a partner with Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, served as lead counsel for Vonage. He declined to comment for this story, citing ongoing litigation as the reason. Other high-profile matters that Webb has handled include representing Microsoft Corp. in the antitrust litigation involving computer software applications, and defending former Illinois Governor George Ryan against public corruption charges related to his former jobs as Illinois secretary of state and governor. A 1970 graduate of Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Webb is a fellow of the International Academy of Trial and Lawyers and of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

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