Litigator Louis Bonham says he has developed a theory: Never make jury panels crunch any more numbers than necessary.

"If you are on the plaintiff’s side, you don’t want to do anything to make the jury irritated," says Bonham, who is of counsel at Osha Liang in Austin.

In Hewlett Custom Home Design Inc. v. Frontier Homebuilders Inc., et al., a copyright-infringement case filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston, Bonham applied that principle when he represented the plaintiff, winning a $1.3 million final judgment for the company on May 20.

Bonham made a point to obtain stipulations to as many facts and figures as possible before the jury began deliberating, so the panel didn’t have to wrestle with unnecessary numbers.

In an amended complaint filed on Oct. 26, 2011, the plaintiff alleged one copyright infringement claim against the two defendants, based on the building plans they marketed that were allegedly "derivative" of those to which Hewlett possessed the rights. The plaintiff also alleged that the owner of Frontier Homebuilders, Ronald Bopp, was vicariously liable for the infringement.

In an answer filed Nov. 11, 2011, Frontier Homebuilders and Bopp denied the allegations and argued the statute of limitations as an alternative defense, among other things. The defendants filed a counterclaim, seeking a declaratory judgment of noninfringement.

Cooper & Scully shareholder R. Brent Cooper of Dallas, who represents both defendants, did not return a call seeking comment.

After a two-day trial, a jury issued a verdict on May 8, finding the copyright had been infringed when Frontier Homebuilders used the designs to build 19 homes. Because Bonham had asked for stipulation of the sale price of those homes built with the allegedly infringing designs, the jury only had to decide what percentage of the homes’ sale profits were attributable to any source other than the copyrighted material.

The jury concluded 0 percent of the profits were attributable to anything other than the alleged infringed designs in each case.

Based on that verdict, U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. issued the final judgment on May 20. He also ordered the defendants to file a report telling how they had destroyed infringing designs.

Says Bonham: "We spared the jury mind-numbing testimony from accountants."

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