August 28, 2012

Seagate IV – the Final Chapter?

Posted in Fraud and Misrepresentation, Hiring and Recruiting, Minnesota Statute 181.64, Minnesota Statute 181.65 tagged , , , , , at 5:28 pm by Tom Jacobson

Chandramouli Vaidyanathan’s $2.4 million award for damages and attorney’s fees has been thrown out.

As you may recall, Vaidyanathan was awarded $1.9 million in damages and another half million in attorney’s fees after a Minnesota jury found that his former employer, Bloomington-based Seagate US, LLC, misrepresented the job for which he was recruited. For more details on the case, see my previous articles, Bloomington-based Seagate Hit with $1.9m Verdict for Misrepresenting Job to Recruit, Seagate’s Liability to Duped Recruit Jumps to $2.4 Million, and Seagate III – the Saga Continues.

Seagate appealed the case, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals today reversed the trial court outcome. The appellate court’s decision was based on its conclusion that the trial court had improperly instructed the jury about what it takes to prove misrepresentation under the applicable statute, Minnesota Statute § 181.64. Specifically, the court ruled that “The jury should have been instructed that it could hold Seagate liable if Seagate knew that its representations were false.” Because the jury was not properly instructed, the court threw out the verdict and the attorney’s fee award as well.

But this may not be the end of the story, for the court also ordered a new trial. Stay tuned.

What you need to know: By requiring proof of actual knowledge, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has raised the bar for employees who want to prove misrepresentation under Minnesota Statute § 181.64.

For more information about this article, please contact me at taj@alexandriamnlaw.com.

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney.

Copyright 2012 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson Schultz, PA

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2 Comments »

  1. Holy cow. I am guessing some serious time will be spent reviewing instructions during the next trial.

    • Tom Jacobson said,

      You’ve probably heard more than one lawyer say, “Hmmm, the law in this kind of case is kind of a gray area.” This is one of those “gray area” cases. I’m sure that when the lawyers in the Vaidyanathan case submitted their proposed jury instructions to the judge during the first trial, one side argued that the jury instructions should have said black, and the other side argued they should have said white. Of course, black mixed with white makes gray. The trial court judge then had to decide whether to go with white or black. The appellate court disagreed with the trial judge’s decision, so now the parties are headed for a new trial. But, at least we know which color to use in future cases.

      Abraham Lincoln urged his fellow lawyers to keep their clients out of court. As the Vaidyanathan case illustrates, the potential for losing a gamble over the interpretation of a “gray area” of the law is one reason why Lincoln was right.


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