United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ACBEL POLYTECH INC., individually and as an assignee of certain claims, Plaintiff,
FAIRCHILD SEMICONDUCTOR INTERNATIONAL, INC., and FAIRCHILD SEMICONDUCTOR CORPORATION, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Talwani United States District Judge
the court is Plaintiff AcBel Polytech Inc.'s Motion
in Limine [#431]. Plaintiff asks the court to preclude
Defendants Fairchild Semiconductor International, Inc. and
Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation (collectively,
“Fairchild”) from 1) offering evidence or arguing
that Fairchild did not manufacture or sell the shrunk-die
KA7805 voltage regulators at issue in this case, and 2)
offering evidence or arguing there is a limited warranty that
applies to AcBel's claims. AcBel also seeks to prevent
Fairchild from conducting discovery on these two issues. For
the following reasons, the Motion in Limine [#431]
AcBel Polytech Inc. (“AcBel”) asserted several
claims against Fairchild, alleging that Fairchild's
KA7805 voltage regulators (“KA7805s”) failed,
causing AcBel's power supply units to fail and therefore
causing economic injury to AcBel and its assignee, EMC Corp.
(“EMC”). Judge Casper presided over the case
initially. Following bench trial, the court determined that
Synnex Technology International and Synnex Electronics Hong
Kong Ltd. (“Synnex”), the companies that sold
AcBel the KA7805s, was Fairchild's agent. AcBel
Polytech Inc. v. Fairchild Semiconductor Int'l,
Inc., 2017 WL 6625036 at *9-10 (D. Mass. Dec. 12,
2017). The trial court also held that AcBel did
not waive any implied warranties as to the KA7805s.
Id. at *11.
other issues in Fairchild's favor, the court entered
judgment for Fairchild on the implied warranty claims.
Id. at *12. AcBel appealed. Notice of Appeal [#372].
On appeal, Fairchild did not challenge the trial court's
holding as to its relationship with Synnex, AcBel
Polytech Inc. v. Fairchild Semiconductor Int'l,
Inc., 928 F.3d 110, 116, n.6 (1st Cir. 2019), nor the
holding on the limited warranty issue. The First Circuit
reversed the trial court on grounds unrelated to these two
issues and remanded the case for unrelated discovery and a
new trial. See id. at 121.
argues it should be allowed to reopen the issues of
Synnex's apparent authority and a limited warranty
because: 1) the First Circuit did not address either
Synnex's relationship with Fairchild or the limited
warranty issue, and 2) new evidence exists as to the
Synnex's agency relationship with Fairchild. The court
considers each in turn.
of the Case Doctrine
of the case doctrine “contemplates that a legal
decision made at one stage of a criminal or civil proceeding
should remain the law of that case through the
litigation.” Negron Almeda v.
Santiago, 579 F.3d 45, 50 (1st Cir. 2009). “Unless
corrected by an appellate tribunal, a legal decision made at
one stage of a civil or criminal case constitutes the law of
the case throughout the pendency of the litigation.”
Latin Am. Music Co. Inc. v. Media Power Grp., Inc.,
705 F.3d 34, 40 (1st Cir. 2013). The law of the case doctrine
serves important principles, including “stability in
the decisionmaking process, predictability of results, proper
working relationships between trial and appellate courts, and
judicial economy.” United States v.
Rivera-Martinez, 931 F.2d 148, 151 (1st Cir. 1991).
Judge Casper held that Synnex acted on apparent authority and
therefore was Fairchild's agent when selling the KA7805s
to AcBel. 2017 WL 6625036 at *10. The court also held that
there was no limited warranty between AcBel and Fairchild.
Id. at *11. These findings are the law of the case.
It makes no difference that the First Circuit reversed the
trial court on unrelated issues - on remand, this court
continues moving forward on the undisturbed decisions from
the original trial court. Unless an exception applies, this
court will not disturb the prior holdings, nor allow reopened
discovery on the subjects.
is correct that it did not waive its right to challenge the
district court's determination of these issues by not
raising them during AcBel's appeal. The proper forum for
reviewing the trial court's decisions on these issues,
however, is before the First Circuit if AcBel prevails, and
not in this court. Ms. S. v. Reg'l Sch. Unit 72,
916 F.3d 41, 47 (1st Cir. 2019). See also Christianson v.
Colt Indus. Operating Corp., 486 U.S. 800, 817 (1988)
(“[A] district court's adherence to law of the case
cannot insulate an issue from appellate review”).
argues that it believes two witnesses - Synnex employees
Sunny Peng and Tony Hsieh - have new evidence that will show
that Synnex did not in fact have an agency relationship with
Fairchild and therefore, this court should allow reopened
discovery and re-litigation on the agency
a rule, courts should be loathe” to revisit prior
decisions of a coordinate court “in the absence of
extraordinary circumstances.” Christianson,
486 U.S. at 817. Within this narrow frame, courts have held
that the law of the case can be set aside if a party
“proffer[s] significant new evidence, not earlier