A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for tag: Bench Trial

"Hmm, I wonder if the Court would do two trials..." Juan Rumimpunu, Unsplash

Defendants are often looking for ways to resolve cases early—§ 101 motions to dismiss, motions for judgment on the pleadings, early summary judgment motions, and so on. Sometimes these can succeed, but it can vary a lot depending on the judge and the circumstances.

Here is one I haven't seen before: In Ravgen, Inc. v. Biora Therapeutics, Inc., C.A. No. 20-1734-RGA-JLH (D. Del.), the defendant moved for the Court to schedule a one-day bench trial on inequitable conduct just after the close of expert discovery, and before the summary judgment deadline—around 7-10 months before trial.

Their logic was that a "single one-day …

Open Gate
Stephen O'Donnell, Unsplash

Yesterday, the Court denied three Daubert motions in a short pretrial order in the lead up to a bench trial in a patent action, citing the Third Circuit's conclusion that Daubert motions in a bench trial may waste judicial time, and also noting that the issues are better addressed the judge in context at trial:

WHEREAS, “[w]hen the role of the gatekeeper to admit or exclude evidence (the judge) and the role of the factfinder to assess and weigh the evidence . . . (the jury) are one and the same, the judge who becomes the factfinder as well as the gatekeeper . . . should not be required to waste judicial time.” In re Unisys, 173 F.3d 145, 155–58 (3d Cir. 1999).
WHEREAS, having reviewed the motions to preclude, the Court has determined that it can better address the issues in context at trial when the Court can hear testimony and better understand the bases for the experts’ opinions;
. . .
1) the motions to preclude (D.I. 222, 223, 224) are DENIED with leave to renew during trial to the extent appropriate. . . .

The Court also suggested that the parties could present their evidence at trial and then, potentially, ...

In light of the ongoing delays in restarting patent jury trials, and the rising COVID-19 numbers nationwide, it's no surprise to see Judge Andrews recognize that parties may be better served by having a bench trial in the near future rather than waiting an indeterminate time for a jury to be available:

ORAL ORDER: The court doubts that a jury trial will be feasible on Feb. 1. On the other hand, a bench trial would be very feasible. The parties are requested to discuss with each other whether they would mutually agree to a bench trial on Feb. 1, and, if they both do agree, report that fact to the court by no later than Dec. 9. If one …

Adam Tinworth, Unsplash

Here is a list of some of the upcoming jury/bench trials in the District of Delaware.

As you can see, aside from Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years', there is one jury trial per week starting 11/16 and continuing into next year.

  • November 3: Judge Noreika has a remote bench trial scheduled in W. R. Berkley Corporation v. Niemela, C.A. No. 17-32-MN (D. Del.), a non-compete case.
  • November 16: Chief Judge Stark has a criminal jury trial scheduled in U.S. v. Aaron Davis, C.A. No. 19-101-LPS (D. Del.), a fraud case. The Court issued an order last week finding that seven witnesses could testify remotely, and making some statements …

COVID-19, CDC/Hannah A Bullock; Azaibi Tamin

Chief Judge Stark today denied an emergency request by defendants to delay a remote bench trial scheduled to start next week.

The Court had previously solicited the parties' preferences on how to handle trial and, before the pretrial conference, ordered that the trial would be fully remote. At the pretrial conference, neither party objected to that ruling.

Last week, however, Defendants sought emergency relief to delay the trial in order to convert it to a "partially remote" trial, submitting a declaration from their client that they had not authorized their now-former in-house counsel to agree to a fully virtual trial.

They cited due process rights and the importance of in-person testimony …

Gavel, Bill Oxford, Unsplash

Judge Andrews is holding a virtual bench trial in a contract action today. The Court posted a dial-in for public access:

Remark: The public may access the Bench Trial scheduled to start 7/6/2020 by dialing the following phone number: 571-353-2300, then enter 792973273. The dial-in information provides listening capabilities only. (crb) (Entered: 07/06/2020)

Judge Andrews set forth his reasoning for holding a virtual trial in an order in June:

I had a teleconference with the parties on June 5. I suggested a virtual trial. I did not think it was fair for one side to have lawyers in the courtroom while the other side did not. A virtual trial (by which …