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Lexion Medical, LLC v. Northgate Technologies

April 27, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge


This matter comes before the court on cross motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff Lexion Medical, LLC ("Lexion") moves for summary judgment in its favor. Likewise, Defendant Northgate Technologies, Inc. ("Northgate") moves for summary judgment. For the following reasons, Lexion's motion is granted and Northgate's motion is denied.


This patent infringement case began when Lexion sued Northgate because Northgate's Humi-Flow product allegedly infringed Lexion's patented invention for heating and humidifying the gas used to inflate a patient's abdomen during laparoscopic surgery. Lexion's United States Patent No. 5,411,474 ("the '474 patent") discloses and claims a method and apparatus for heating and humidifying gas that enters the patient within a four-degree temperature range of a preset temperature. Lexion alleges that the accused Humi-Flow device both heats and humidifies gas inside a chamber before delivering it into a patient's body for use in a laparoscopy.

The case went to trial and the jury entered a verdict against Northgate; it found that claims 11 and 12 of the '474 patent are valid and were infringed by Northgate. Northgate subsequently appealed the verdict with respect to the infringement and validity of the '474 patent. The Federal Circuit considered the prior claim construction of the limitations of claims 11(a) and 11(e), vacated the jury's verdict, and remanded the case.

Claim 11 of the '474 patent recites the following: A method of providing heated, humidified gas into a patient for an endoscopic procedure comprising the steps of:

a) directing pressure - and volumetric flow rate-controlled gas, received from an insufflator into a chamber having a means for heating the gas to a temperature within a predetermined range and a means for humidifying the gas and being disposed immediately adjacent to the patient, wherein the chamber is in flow communication with and immediately adjacent to a means for delivering the gas to the interior of the patient;


e) flowing the gas into the delivering means such that the gas enters the patient humidified and having a temperature within 2EC of the predetermined temperature and thus providing the gas.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit found that the trial court erroneously concluded that Lexion disclaimed a means for humidifying that was not in the path of travel of the gas as well as a means for heating not disposed within the humidification means. Lexion Med., LLC v. Northgate Tech., Inc., 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 18825, at *10 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 28, 2008). As a result, the district court improperly instructed the jury that, with regard to claims 11 and 12 of the '474 patent, Lexion had surrendered a humidifying means where "gas flows freely past a humidifying bed." Id. Moreover, the district court erroneously lent the disclaimer to the "means for heating" construction because it defined the heating means as a structure found "within" the humidifying means. Id. On remand, we are asked to review the party's submissions in light of the Federal Circuit's construction of claim 11.

The Federal Circuit also reviewed limitation (e) of claim 11, which requires that gas be delivered into the patient within 2EC of a "predetermined temperature." Id. at *16. It adopted Northgate's argument that "predetermined temperature" is a single temperature point rather than a temperature range. Since the jury was unable to consider this construction when deliberating whether the Humi-Flow met this limitation, the court vacated the judgment and remanded the case based on the new construction of "predetermined temperature."


Summary judgment is appropriate only when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(c). A genuine issue of material fact exists when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could find for the non-movant. Buscaglia v. United States, 25 F.3d 530, 534 (7th Cir. 1994). The movant in a motion for summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact by specific citation to the record; if the party succeeds in doing so, the burden shifts to the non-movant to set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of fact for trial. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(e); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2554 (1986). In considering motions for summary judgment, a court construes all facts and draws all inferences from the record in favor of the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2513 (1986).

When parties file cross motions for summary judgment, each motion must be assessed independently, and denial of one does not necessitate the grant of the other. M. Snower & Co. v. United States, 140 F.2d 367, 369 (7th Cir. 1944). Rather, each motion evidences only that the movant believes it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the issues within its motion and that trial is the appropriate course of action ...

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