The Law of the Case Doctrine

I am the lead trial attorney on a case that has been pending for over 10 years. My client was an internet service provider (ISP) that entered into a contract with a marketer of a device that allowed people to access the internet by using their televisions as a monitor. Shortly after that contract, this marketer entered into another contract with a third party that we contend induced the marketer to breach the contract with my client.

My client sued for breach of contract against the marketer and intentional interference with contract against this third party for inducing that breach of contract. There was an issue of whether this marketer’s conduct was a breach of contract. The answer to that question depended on an interpretation of our contract.

This case has been pending for so long because on three separate occasions a judgment was entered by the trial court against my client that has been reversed on appeal each time.

This last Court of Appeal decision interpreted the contract based upon the undisputed facts and found that this marketer breached the contract with my client. This finding is called the “law of the case”.

That doctrine is defined by case law as follows: “Under the law of the case doctrine, when an appellate court ‘ “states in its opinion a principle or rule of law necessary to the decision, that principle or rule becomes the law of the case and must be adhered to throughout the case’s subsequent progress, both in the lower court and upon subsequent appeal.”

What this means is that the issue of who breached the contract has been determined and will not have to be re-litigated. The only remaining issue is the amount of damages we can recover.

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