This week brought to light yet another unexpected side effect of COVID-19 -- it's now harder to win a motion to bifurcate.
This interesting tidbit came to light in Judge Hall's opinion in Evertz Microsystems Ltd. v. Lawo Inc., C.A. No. 19-302, D.I. 259 (D. Del. Feb. 23, 2021). The defendant there moved to bifurcate the infringement and damages cases into separate trials near the close of fact discovery. In denying the motion, Judge Hall noted that the prejudice to the plaintiff, and strain on the Court, of holding two separate trials was greater than it would normally be because it was unlikely the second trial could be scheduled for years:
As the parties both know, this Court currently has an extremely congested docket. It would be difficult to schedule an additional trial in this action; thus, Evertz would likely have to wait additional years to have full resolution of its claims.
Id. at 3.
Its also worth noting that Judge Hall called out the "fairly litigious" nature of the case, with the parties "raising numerous discovery disputes before the Court" leading to concerns that "bifurcating and staying the issue of damages will result in (1) duplicate discovery requests and disputes as those already resolved and (2) new disputes over what is appropriately part of the liability phase versus the damages phase" that would further tax the Court." ...