Nuclear engineering and power companies are as prone as others to become embroiled in extensive business disputes. In one recent case, two such companies went to trial over accusations of breach of contract and theft of proprietary information. The claims included the alleged failure to pay royalties under the disputed contract. The jury came in with a $16 million verdict against Babcock & Wilcox, a global firm with its home office in North Carolina, ordering the company to pay the royalties claimed by the plaintiff company.
The plaintiff company, Areva, Inc., claimed that Babcock had breached its contract and had misused Areva’s trade secrets. The jury verdict capped three years of business litigation between the high-technology firms. However, Babcock indicated that it would likely file a motion for a new trial and would possibly file an appeal.
The case was filed in Virginia and the trial occurred in Lynchburg. Both companies reportedly have extensive operations in Virginia. The case centered around claims by Areva that B&W breached a 2004 contract and used Areva’s proprietary secrets to win 15 separate contracts from other businesses. The jury verdict accounts for the royalties that B&W should have paid to Areva, according to press reports.
The North Carolina company says the wording of the contract with Areva did not cover the specifics of the 15 outside contracts and did not require royalties under the circumstances. The jury, however, disagreed and awarded the royalty payments to Areva, finding that there was in fact a breach of contract by B&W. The motion for new trial filed by B&W is a common request after a civil jury trial but the remedy is seldom granted. The trial judge himself would have to rule that some legal defect made the trial unfair in some substantial respect. The next step thereafter would be to file an appeal with an appellate court in the forum state.
Source: newsadvance.com, “Jury: B&W owes Areva $16 million“, Jason Ruiter, Dec. 18, 2014