Southern California Gas Company v. Syntellect, Inc.

Represented one of the nation’s largest investor-owned utilities in a fast-track trial with just 49 days to prepare.

On behalf of Southern California Gas Company (“SoCalGas”), one of the nation’s largest investor-owned utilities, Willenken had negotiated and settled a substantial patent infringement case involving call-center and telecommunication technology. SoCalGas then retained us to pursue a contractual indemnity claim against Syntellect, the technology vendor. We strategically litigated the case by focusing our initial attack on liability, which culminated in winning a partial summary judgment motion on the issue of liability for SoCalGas. After this significant win, SoCalGas attempted to resolve the matter, but Syntellect refused to engage in any settlement talks. 

Several months after the liability ruling, the court was disappointed that the matter had not resolved after the liability ruling as it hoped, and in turn, set a fast-track trial date just 49 days out. This date presented significant challenges for both parties because the district court had not permitted any discovery related to the remaining key issue of damages. Nevertheless, because of Willenken’s trial orientation and readiness, we were able to immediately jump-start the process, including triple-track depositions and simultaneously conduct other pretrial preparations.  At the final pretrial conference less than a week before the start of trial, we prevailed on every single motion in limine, including those which effectively foreclosed Syntellect from presenting evidence in an attempt to improperly subvert the earlier liability ruling. 

Following this defeat, Syntellect stipulated to a $7.8 million judgment but preserved appellate rights. The district court’s rulings were ultimately affirmed twice—once on liability and then on damages—by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, resulting in Willenken winning a judgment of $9.6 million for full indemnity, which SoCalGas collected in full.

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