Samsung puts lead juror in spotlight

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Samsung puts lead juror in spotlight

Further complicating Apple’s court battle with Samsung Electronics in the United States, a report by Reuters yesterday showed that jury foreman Velvin Hogan failed to disclose he was involved in litigation in 1993 with Seagate Technology, a former employer, that led him and his wife to declare personal bankruptcy.

Seagate and Samsung Electronics are strategic partners. The major U.S. hard drive producer acquired Samsung’s hard drive business for $1.4 billion in December.

Samsung Group’s flagship company is engaged in a fierce courtroom battle with Apple over a number of alleged patent infringements that the U.S. company claims benefited Samsung’s smartphone and tablet PC sales.

On Aug. 24, jurors at the court in San Jose, California, ruled that Samsung Electronics should pay Apple $1.05 billion in damages, but a final decision on the matter by the judge has yet to be made.

However, based on the latest discovery, Samsung appears to be arguing the case for juror misconduct in a bid to nullify the jury’s verdict, which found that six of seven Samsung products were guilty of infringing Apple’s patents.

Samsung’s argument was not entirely clear, Reuters reports, as its lawyers in the U.S. redacted an entire section of the relation motion they filed last Friday with U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh.

However, the news agency analyzed two key parts to the Korean tech titan’s case: First, that Hogan failed to disclose his past litigation, which could have a bearing on the current trial; and second, that the nine-person jury “improperly considered extraneous evidence during deliberations.”

Hogan, a former engineer, claimed in an interview this week that when Seagate hired him in the 1980s - which entailed him moving from Colorado to California - the company agreed to split the cost of paying off the mortgage on his Colorado home, the report said.

But when Hogan was laid off in the early 1990s, Seagate demanded he pay the money back, prompting him to sue them for fraud. Seagate countersued, and Hogan ultimately declared bankruptcy to protect his house, Reuters said.

“Can Quinn Emanuel [Samsung’s law firm] credibly argue that Koh needs to hold a hearing to determine whether Hogan’s failure to disclose the 1993 litigation is grounds to throw out an unrelated patent infringement verdict for Apple?” it asked.

“Again, we don’t know precisely what Samsung’s argument is, but several of the cases it cited in the new brief’s table of authorities concern juror bias and the failure to disclose relevant information in the jury selection process.”

Reuters further cited the example of United States v. Perkins, a 1984 court ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In this, the judge ruled that the defendant in a case concerning criminal obstruction of justice was entitled to a new trial because a juror did not reveal he had previously been both a defendant, in a civil case over stolen union funds, and a witness, in a criminal case involving the firebombing of a union hall.

Samsung refused to comment on the news report.

By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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