Success Stories - Attorney Kevin R. Crisp
Defense Verdict – Breach of Agreement to Commercialize Internet-Enabled Product
Gardensensor, Inc. v. Black & Decker (U.S.) Inc. (November, 2014, San Francisco)
Kevin successfully headed his firm’s 5 lawyer trial team in the USDC, San Francisco.
Defendant and Plaintiff signed an agreement to cooperate on the rebranding and sale of an internet-enabled gardening sensor called “Plantsmart.” The Plantsmart would monitor soil moisture, temperature and humidity and then make recommendations as to plant selection and care. Plaintiff had previously marketed essentially the same device for two years, with mixed success.
When the product ultimately did not sell as well as the parties hoped, plaintiff claimed breach of the agreement for alleged inadequate marketing spending and effort, fraud, and failure to properly supervise the manufacturing process. The fraud claim was dismissed on motion by the court. The court, however, declined to enforce the limitation of damages provision in the contract under Delaware law.
Relying heavily on Defendant’s internal marketing projections, Plaintiff claimed damages of $25,000,000, including loss of income from unrealized subscription services and add-ons. Defendant maintained that it marketed the product as aggressively as the contracts required, but that tepid consumer response to its PR campaign, in store displays and DRTV commercials demonstrated that the cost of advertising and producing each unit far exceeded its wholesale price. Plaintiff was unable to find another marketing partner and ceased operations.
Defendant admitted that while there where technical breaches of the agreements with respect to reporting requirements, there was compliance with the contractual requirements of substance related to the success or failure of the joint venture.
Plaintiff’s lowest demand was $16,000,000. Defendant’s offered $3,000,000, with an indication of more.
In a nationally reported verdict, the jury found 7-0 that while there were breaches of the contract, these caused Plaintiff no harm. Plaintiff’s new trial motion was denied. Plaintiff appealed, but ultimately dismissed for a waiver of costs.