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Deep Fix, LLC v. Marine Well Containment Co., LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

September 5, 2019

DEEP FIX, LLC, Plaintiff,



         On April 24, 2019, the Court issued its Memorandum and Order on Claim Construction ("April 24 Order") [Doc. # 127], construing the disputed claim terms in United States Patent No. 8, 833, 393 ("the '393 Patent") (the "Patent-in-Suit"). The case is now before the Court on the Motion to Modify the April 24 Order on Claim Construction ("Motion to Modify") filed by Plaintiff Deep Fix, LLC ("Deep Fix"), to which Defendant Marine Well Containment Company, LLC ("MWCC") filed a Response [Doc. # 158], and Deep Fix filed a Reply [Doc. # 160]. Having reviewed the record and the applicable legal authorities, the Court denies the Motion to Modify.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Charles Adams is the sole inventor of the cap valve covered by the '393 Patent. Through a series of assignments, Deep Fix asserts sole ownership of all interest in the '393 Patent. MWCC is a consortium of oil and gas companies including Exxon Mobil, British Petroleum ("BP"), and others.

         Drilling an offshore well involves connecting a line from a drilling rig, through a well bore, to an oil or gas reservoir beneath the sea floor. See MWCC's Technical Tutorial [Doc. # 69], p. 1. An uncontrolled release of high pressure water, natural gas, and/or crude oil up into the well bore is known as a blowout. See Id. To reduce the chances of a blowout, a blowout preventer ("BOP") is present near the well during drilling operations. See Id. Traditional BOPs seal off the area of the well bore around the drill pipe, often using "blind shear rams" to cut the drill pipe and seal the well. See Id. at 1-2.

         On September 3, 2010, Adams filed a provisional patent application for his cap valve invention. See id., ¶ 14. On September 2, 2011, Adams filed a non-provisional patent application and claimed priority based on the provisional patent application filed in 2010. See Id. The '393 Patent issued on September 16, 2014. See id.

         MWCC manufactures oil and gas well containment systems used in well blowout situations. Specifically, MWCC manufactures the following three containment systems: (1) the Subsea Containment System; (2) the 15K PSI Capping Stack, and (3) the 10K PSI Capping Stack (collectively, the "Accused Devices"). Deep Fix filed this patent infringement lawsuit on March 26, 2018, alleging that the Accused Devices infringe the claims of the '393 Patent.

         The parties identified disputed claim terms in the '393 Patent that required construction by the Court. The parties filed claim construction briefs, the Court conducted a hearing pursuant to Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370');">517 U.S. 370 (1996) ("Markman Hearing"), and the parties filed post-Markman Hearing briefs. In the April 24 Order, the Court construed the disputed claim terms.

         The Court construed the claim term "outlet ports" in the '393 Patent to mean "multiple openings in the cylindrical valve chamber or in the intermittent pipe that can permit outward flow of high pressure fluids." See April 24 Order, p. 8. The Court construed the term "primary hydraulic ram" in the '393 Patent to mean "a unitary piston-like device located in the valve chamber that moves in response to fluid pressure." Id. at 13. Deep Fix seeks modification of these two claim construction rulings. The Motion to Modify has been fully briefed and is now ripe for decision.


         Federal Circuit precedent generally controls in patent cases, but district courts apply the legal standard of their regional circuit on motions to reconsider. SeeMinton v. NASD, Inc., 336 F.3d 1373, 1378-79 (Fed. Cir. 2003). Although Deep Fix does not identify the basis for its Motion to Modify, the Court will treat the motion as one filed pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[1]

         A Rule 59(e) motion requesting reconsideration of a prior ruling is an "extraordinary remedy that should be used sparingly." See Waites v. Lee County, Miss., 498 Fed.Appx. 401, 404 (5th Cir. Nov. 26, 2012) (quoting Templet v. Hydrochem, Inc., 367 F.3d 473, 479 (5th Cir. 2004)). A motion for reconsideration "is not the proper vehicle for rehashing evidence, legal theories, or arguments that could have been offered or raised before the entry of judgment." Templet, 367 F.3d at 479; Knight v. Kellogg Brown & Root Inc., 2009 WL 1471788, at *6 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting Templet, 367 F.3d at 479). Instead, Rule 59(e) serves the narrow purpose of allowing a party to bring errors or newly discovered evidence to the Court's attention. See In re Rodriguez, 695 F.3d 360');">695 F.3d 360, 371 (5th Cir. 2012) (citing In re Transtexas Gas Corp., 571');">303 F.3d 571, 581 (5th Cir. 2002)).

         A litigant seeking relief under Rule 59(e) "must clearly establish either a manifest error of law or fact or must present newly discovered evidence." Balakrishnan v. Bd. of Supervisors of La. State Univ. & Agr. & Mech. Coll., 52 Fed.Appx. 495');">452 Fed.Appx. 495, 499 (5th Cir. 2011) (citing Ross v. Marshall, 5');">426 F.3d 745, 763 (5th Cir. 2005) (quotation marks and citation omitted)). A Rule 59(e) motion "cannot be used to argue a case under a new legal theory." Id. (citing Ross, 426 F.3d at 763).

         Alternatively, the Court could construe the Motion to Modify as one filed pursuant to Rule 54(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 54(b) allows a party to seek reconsideration of interlocutory orders, and authorizes the district court to revise at any time an order or other decision that does not end the case. See Austin v. Kroger Texas, L.P., 864 F.3d 326, 336 (5th Cir. 2017) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b)). Under Rule 54(b), the district court is free to reconsider its decision "for any reason it deems sufficient, even in the absence of new evidence or an intervening change in or clarification of the substantive law." Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Like Rule 59(e) motions, Rule 54(b) motions are disfavored. See PYCA ...

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