Atlanta Team Obtains Rare Summary Judgment for Tech Company in Major Software Dispute

September 30, 2022

Atlanta Partner Jonathan D. Goins, along with Partner Rohini Roy and Associate Nicole Holtzapple, recently obtained a rare favorable outcome on behalf of a software technology provider.

Atlanta, Ga. (September 30, 2022) - Atlanta Partner Jonathan D. Goins, along with Partner Rohini Roy and Associate Nicole Holtzapple, recently obtained a rare favorable outcome on behalf of a software technology provider. In a 36-page opinion, a federal judge before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia ruled in favor of Lewis Brisbois’ client on summary judgment, finding that the plaintiff had not established material facts supporting any breach of the parties’ contract. Citing a recent precedential opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Judge Moore acknowledged that the parties’ contract included valid and enforceable disclaimers that did not promise a perfectly functioning website.

In September 2019, one of the largest distributors in the education industry sued a Georgia-based website provider for allegedly breaching the parties’ website services contract. The plaintiff commenced a diversity action in Wisconsin federal court, which the Lewis Brisbois team successfully transferred to Georgia federal court due to the parties’ controlling choice of forum provision.  

Over the next three years, Mr. Goins managed a team of a dozen attorneys in conducting extensive discovery efforts, including exchanging thousands of pages of discovery and deposing numerous fact and expert witnesses. The team had hired Dr. Easttom, a renowned technology expert who has been involved in well over 100 computer-related cases involving software copyright, trademark, and patent litigation. The Lewis Brisbois team argued that the parties’ contract included several disclaimers negating any promise regarding timing and perfection of performance. In August 2021, both parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

In his Order, Judge Moore agreed with Lewis Brisbois’ arguments articulated in its dispositive motion briefing, including its reliance upon the Eleventh Circuit’s pivotal decision in Caradigm USA LLC. v. PruittHealth, Inc. The court found that “the MSA in this case includes specific disclaimers which unambiguously disavow [the defendant’s] responsibility to provide a website without flaws or by a specific date” and that the plaintiff “failed to present evidence demonstrating that [the defendant] waived these disclaimers through any later executed agreement.” [Order. at 30-31]. Because the plaintiff’s claim of breach was based on the timeliness and functionality of the website provided, qualities expressly disclaimed in the contract, the court found as a matter of law that Lewis Brisbois’ client did not breach the contract.

Mr. Goins is a vice-chair of Lewis Brisbois' Intellectual Property & Technology and Entertainment, Media & Sports Practices. He serves as lead counsel in IP litigation across the country, including in “bet the company” cases with multimillion-dollar exposures. With two decades of experience, he is consistently ranked in leading publications for his deep and expansive knowledge in IP and entertainment law.

Ms. Roy is a member of the General Liability, Intellectual Property & Technology, and Products Liability Practices. She focuses her practice in general liability litigation and intellectual property, and has experience in all areas of civil litigation from initial claims through trial.

Ms. Holtzapple is a member of Lewis Brisbois' Intellectual Property & Technology Practice. She has extensive experience as a litigator focusing on business and real estate litigation involving large and small businesses, non-compete and trade secrets matters, consumer bankruptcy, and patent litigation cases involving a wide range of technologies.