After a 10-week jury trial, United States District Judge Edward C. Prado of the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, on February 9, 1998, entered a take-nothing judgment in a case filed by San Antonio-based Kaepa, Inc. against Tokyo-based Achilles Corporation, a leading manufacturer and distributor of shoes in Japan and a maker of many industrial products. Kaepa had sought $90 million in damages for breach of contract and fraud in connection with the distribution of Kaepa athletic shoes in Japan.
Gordon M. Shapiro, a partner in Jackson Walker and lead counsel in the case, said, “Given the recent history of judgments handed down by American juries against Japanese companies, Achilles and Jackson Walker are particularly pleased with the outcome of the trial, both the jury verdict and Judge Prado’s take-nothing judgment.”
Retta A. Miller, a partner in Jackson Walker and co-counsel in the case, noted that, “The firm successfully handled numerous significant challenges in our defense of Achilles, not the least of which included assisting the jury in overcoming the cultural and language barriers involved in understanding evidence presented by Japanese witnesses.”
James L. “Rocky” Walker, a partner in Jackson Walker and co-counsel in the trial, praised the jury, “It has been our experience that juries in San Antonio are equitable and fair minded. This jury validated the belief we held that a San Antonio jury, once presented with the evidence, would find in favor of Achilles, regardless of the fact that our client came from a different culture. All of us here in Bexar county can be proud of the work these folks did in this long and difficult trial.”
Achilles was represented by Shapiro, Miller, Walker, and Jackson Walker partner Carl C. Butzer, attorneys Sarah E. Clark and Brian A. Kilpatrick, and paralegal Charlene Davidson.
Kaepa was represented by the Jenkins & Gilchrist law firm.
Achilles, traded on the Tokyo Stock Market, operates factories in Japan, China, Indonesia, and many other parts of the world. For almost twenty years, Achilles has done business with American shoe companies, such as Spalding, Sketchers shoes, and Sperry Top-Sider. Until Kaepa filed this lawsuit, Achilles had never been involved in litigation arising from a business relationship with one of its distributors or licensors.
Kaepa designed and manufactured athletic shoes sold in the United States and Japan. In 1993, after four months of negotiations, Achilles and Kaepa concluded a five year distributorship agreement covering Kaepa’s products in Japan. When sales did not meet Kaepa’s expectations, a mere thirteen months after Achilles began the distributorship, Kaepa filed suit in July 1994, ultimately seeking over $90 million in damages from Achilles. Kaepa claimed that it was forced to sell its business due to the collapse of its Japan business.
Jackson Walker has 125 years of experience in providing legal counsel to clients throughout Texas, the United States and internationally. The firm provides a strong regional base of more than 350 attorneys in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Angelo, San Antonio and Texarkana.