WIKA Instrument LP v. Ashcroft Inc.

Bryan Cave Secures Major Win for WIKA Instrument in False Advertising Case

A cross-office team from Atlanta and St. Louis secured a major victory for client WIKA Instrument LP, an Atlanta-based company that makes pressure gauges for the refinery industry. WIKA’s parent company, WIKA Group, is the world’s largest pressure gauge manufacturer.

Following a two-week federal district court trial in Atlanta, the jury found that Ashcroft Inc., a sales leader in the U.S. process pressure gauge market, intentionally made literally false statements about the safety of WIKA’s process pressure gauges, including flammability and melting characteristics, and also deliberately mispresented the materials used in Ashcroft’s rival gauge. The jury found for WIKA on all of its claims under the federal Lanham Act and under various state unfair competition laws, and awarded all relief sought by WIKA, including $3.3 million in Ashcroft’s profits, and WIKA’s attorney’s fees. Further, in its final judgment, the court enjoined Ashcroft from issuing further false advertising, required Ashcroft to destroy all the advertising at issue and inform its sales partners to cease use of same, and ordered Ashcroft to post corrective advertising on its website telling relevant consumers the truth about the gauges. Ashcroft also had filed counterclaims against WIKA for false advertising, but the jury either found for WIKA on the counterclaims or the court refused to award any damages or relief for these claims.

In a Dec. 22, 2016, order and amended final judgment, the district court denied the post-trial motions filed by Ashcroft attempting to overturn the verdict and judgment, reaffirmed the damage award, injunctive relief and corrective advertising, ruled again that the matter was an “exceptional” case warranting an award of attorney’s fees, and stated the court’s intent to award WIKA its attorney’s fees in a subsequent order.

The Bryan Cave Atlanta team included Eric Schroeder (Picture), Chris Galanek, Damon Whitaker, Angelia Duncan, Aiten McPherson, Curtis Romig, Scott Greene, Christian Bromley, John Bush, Win Cook, Joellen Bringardner, Deb Field, Deby Witt, LaKeesha Chesley, Genelle Viars and James McAlpin. In St. Louis, the team consisted of Ben Clark, with additional assistance from Jason Meyer, Matt Minder, Marie Riley and Val Crozier.

Involved fees earner: Eric Schroeder – Bryan Cave; Damon Justin Whitaker – Bryan Cave; John Bush – Bryan Cave; Bennett Clark – Bryan Cave; Jason Meyer – Bryan Cave; Matthew Minder – Bryan Cave; Marie Riley – Bryan Cave; Christopher Paul Galanek – Bryan Cave; Angelia Duncan – Bryan Cave; Aiten McPherson – Bryan Cave; Curtis James Romig – Bryan Cave; Scott Greene – Bryan Cave; Christian Bromley – Bryan Cave; James McAlpin Jr. – Bryan Cave; Valerie Crozier – Bryan Cave;

Law Firms: Bryan Cave;

Clients: WIKA Instrument LP;

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Author: Ambrogio Visconti