A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for tag: trial-calendar

Estée Janssens, Unsplash

As we previously mentioned, the Court has suspended all non-emergency jury trials until April 5, 2021, and has stated that, at least initially, it will permit only one jury trial to proceed at a time.

The Court tried repeatedly to re-start jury trials in November and continuing through early February—and got so far as jury selection—but ultimately all of the cases scheduled for trial either resolved or were delayed, mostly due to coronavirus concerns among the parties. At this point, the Court has recognized that, once jury trials restart, the trial calendar is looking extremely congested.

The Court Has Not Canceled All April Jury Trials (Yet)

Currently, there are two …

Artists rendition of the author patiently awaiting the return of jury trials
Artists rendition of the author patiently awaiting the return of jury trials We Don’t Deserve Dogs, Marten Bjork, Unsplash

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." ...

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

Today the Court issued a standing order formally cancelling the remaining jury trials scheduled until April 5, 2021. As we noted in our last update, the District of Delaware had already canceled all jury trials through the end of February.

Today's order leaves open the possibility of a jury trial under some circumstances:

discretion . . . remains with each presiding judge to order a jury trial in the event of an emergency or other truly urgent situation . . . .

It's hard to envision, however, what circumstances might lead to an emergency jury trial.

Of course, as the order notes, all other proceedings, including bench trials, have been proceeding smoothly …

Adam Tinworth, Unsplash

At this point, every trial listed in our last jury trial update has been continued or delayed, almost all due to coronavirus concerns. Here is the breakdown:

  • January 25, 2021: Novel Drug Solutions, LLC et al v. Harrow Health, Inc., C.A. No. 18-539-MN (D. Del.) (Noreika, J.): After a joint request to delay trial due in part to coronavirus issues, this trial was "continued to dates TBD."
  • February 17, 2021: U.S. v. Joanna L. Crane, C.A. No. 20-51-CFC (D. Del.) (Connolly, J.): This trial was continued for reasons unrelated to COVID-19.
  • February 22, 2021: U.S. v. Davine Boyce, C.A. No. 20-43-CFC (D. Del.) (Connolly, J.): Delayed …

Adam Tinworth, Unsplash

It has been a while since we posted an update on upcoming jury trials in the District of Delaware.

The most recent news from the Court is that Chief Judge Stark still believes that jury trials are feasible, using the Court's enhanced jury trial procedures, and the Court intends to proceed with trials as they come up.

[UPDATE: If you arrived here via a Google search, make sure to check out our latest posts on this issue here.]

The next jury trial is set for January 25, and then there are multiple trials scheduled for mid- to late-February:

  • January 25, 2021: Judge Noreika has a jury trial scheduled in a breach of contract action, …

CDC / Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

Chief Judge Stark spoke at a virtual FBA event in Delaware today, and gave an update on the Court's COVID-19 plans going forward. Here are the main points:

  • The Court intends to remain in Phase 2 of its reopening plan, which is the phase it has been in since September. The Court will keep trying to hold jury trials as scheduled trials come up.
  • No jury trials are scheduled for the remainder of December, but he understands that there are still trials set for January. Chief Judge Stark mentioned that he did not know the exact status of those cases. (Note that at least one judge has doubted that …

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 …

According to the docket, USA v. Davis proceeded to jury selection on Monday, but the trial was then continued:

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Leonard P. Stark - Jury Selection as to Aaron Davis held on 11/16/2020 (Court Reporter B. Gaffigan.) (etg) (Entered: 11/17/2020)
ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Jury Trial is CONTINUED. The government shall file a joint status report due by 11/30/2020. A Telephone Conference is set for 12/1/2020 at 01:45 PM before Judge Leonard P. Stark. Time is excluded from 11/17/2020 until 12/1/2020. Signed by Judge Leonard P. Stark on 11/17/2020. (etg) (Entered: 11/17/2020)

The order states only that the trial was continued "for the reasons stated in court November 16, 2020," …

CDC / Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

Just as the District of Delaware restarts its jury trials, the Delaware state courts announced today that they are reverting back to Phase 2 of their reopening plan, after just moving to Phase 3 on October 5.

Under Phase 2, there are no jury trials, but the court houses will stay open, and grand jury proceedings, bench trials, and hearings will continue.

I haven't heard of any COVID-19 outbreaks in the jury trials in Delaware state courts, but Law360 today reported that there was a COVID-19-positive juror in a trial in the Eastern District of Texas, and that seven people involved in the trial have have now tested positive. …

Billy, Unsplash

On Monday morning, Chief Judge Stark is scheduled to hold the second District of Delaware jury trial since all jury proceedings were put on hold for the pandemic. The case is USA v. Aaron Davis, C.A No. 19-101-LPS, a criminal fraud and money laundering action filed August 2019.

The Court issued an order Friday making clear that the jury trial will go forward as planned:

ORAL ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the parties shall be present in Courtroom 6B at 9:00 AM on Monday, November 16, 2020. Ordered by Judge Leonard P. Stark on 11/13/2020. (etg) (Entered: 11/13/2020)

The Court has not yet posted public access information.

UPDATE 11-18-2020: This trial was continued shortly after …