Buffy Kay Martines, a partner in Laminack, Pirtle & Martines in Houston, says she and her two fellow name partners had less experience in federal court than they did in state court before they successfully represented Houston-based software company Wellogix Inc.
On May 20, Martines, Richard Laminack and Thomas Pirtle won a $94.4 million verdict for their client in Wellogix v. Accenture LLP.
When they began representing Wellogix in the trade secrets case in the U.S. District Court in Houston, Martines volunteered to file a flurry of pretrial motions. Martines says the motions ended up determining how and what evidence the plaintiff’s lawyers could present to the jury during the two-week trial.
“Federal court is a new world for us. Buffy took the lead procedurally,” Laminack says.
In its Jan. 7 third amended complaint, Wellogix alleged that Accenture LLP of Chicago had misappropriated trade secrets, among other things.
In its Jan. 21 answer and motion to dismiss, Accenture denied all of the plaintiff’s allegations, stating, “To the extent any trade secrets exist, Accenture has discovered such by independent development, independent discovery, or reverse engineering without breaching a legal duty or using other improper means.”
Ultimately, the jury decided Accenture misappropriated trade secrets and owed Wellogix $26.2 million in damages and $68.2 million in exemplary damages.
Accenture’s lead counsel Maria Wyckoff Boyce, partner in charge of Baker Botts’ Houston office, refers all questions to Accenture spokesman Jim McAvoy.
McAvoy says, “We appreciate the jury’s hard work in this matter. But we do not believe the evidence supports the verdict. We do not believe Accenture had access to or misappropriated Wellogix’s alleged trade secrets and plan to appeal.”
For now, however, Martines intends to savor the victory. She says many of the investors in Wellogix attended the closing and were present for the verdict, a gratifying audience for her and her partners, who were trying their first case together since opening their firm in 2006.
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