DALLAS – A malpractice lawsuit filed against an Austin-area lawyer
by a former client seeking a patent on a mouthwash tablet ended with the
5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a lower court’s ruling
that the claim should be dismissed.
Eric M. Sanders sued attorney Harold H. Flanders, alleging negligence,
fraud and malpractice, but the U.S. District Court for the Western District
of Texas dismissed the case for insufficient evidence. That decision recently
was affirmed by the 5th Circuit Court, which noted in its ruling that
the only way for Mr. Sanders to prevail would be to show that Mr. Flanders’
conduct caused damages. Mr. Sanders failed to demonstrate that.
“After a full opportunity to present his arguments to judge and jury,
Mr. Sanders simply didn’t have a viable case,” says Hicks
Thomas attorney Jody Sheets, who represented Mr. Flanders.
The appeals court decision was featured in a story published by the legal
industry news source Law360, “5th Circ. Ends Appeal of Malpractice
Suit Over Patent Apps,” (subscription required).
Mr. Sanders’ case centered on patent applications filed with the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for an effervescent mouthwash tablet.
Mr. Flanders filed the applications, but none was approved. Mr. Sanders
claimed Mr. Flanders had misrepresented the status of the patent applications
and that he was unaware they were not still pending.
Mr. Sanders also argued that he had suffered lost profits, expenses and
attorneys’ fees. However, he was unable to produce any evidence
to support those amounts. After the judge and jury heard the case, Mr.
Sheets moved for judgment as a matter of law based on insufficient evidence.
The judge granted the motion, and the appeals court agreed in its ruling.