A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


Entries for tag: trial-calendar

Judge Fallon today rejected a motion to stay in Minerva Surgical, Inc. v. Hologic, Inc., C.A. No. 18-217-JFB-SRF (D. Del.), where the defendants tried to rely on COVID-19 opinions as precedent to support a further stay of the August 2021 jury trial.

Not stopping
Jorgen Hendriksen, Unsplash

Defendants tried to argue that the current trial date is tentative and COVID-19 uncertainty supports a further stay:

Although discovery is complete, the trial date is merely tentative and “subject to courtroom availability and the priority of other trials previously scheduled ahead of it.” . . . Moreover, as the Court observed in American Axle, “the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic would render it imprudent to set a trial date at this time.” 2021 WL 616992, at *2; Brit. Telecomms. PLC v. IAC/InterActiveCorp, C.A. No. 18-366-WCB, 2020 WL 5517283, at *5 (D. Del. Sept. 11, 2020) (“[I]n light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems highly unlikely that the present schedule will hold. . . . And once trials resume, the district court will be faced with the challenge of dealing with the backlog of civil cases that has built up . . . .”); Order at 3, Pact XPP Schweiz AG v. Intel Corp., C.A. No. 19-1006-JDW, D.I. 277 (D. Del. Nov. 5, 2020) (Ex. 1) (“The Court is also mindful of challenges it and the Parties face due to Covid-19 and corresponding restrictions. If this case were to proceed on its current schedule, the trial would likely be subject to significant delays.”).

Magistrate Judge Fallon rejected this argument outright:

Pursuant to the court's April 5, 2021 Notice, the suspension of civil jury trials has expired ...

Gavel
Gavel, Bill Oxford, Unsplash

Last week, we asked whether jury trials in Delaware had finally arrived. After a long period of fits and starts, the answer is yes!

Judge Andrews successfully held a jury trial in a criminal case this week, culminating in a "not guilty" verdict today. Everything seems to have gone off without a hitch, with jury selection, preliminary instructions, opening statements, and multiple witness examinations taking place in a single day.

There's a huge backlog of jury trials in D. Del., and the court is still only equipped to hold one jury trial at a time (with a separate courtroom serving as the public observation area). But this is a big step …

COVID-19
CDC / Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

Since our last update, one of the jury trials set for May has been postponed indefinitely (Johnson-Krumm v. City of Seaford), and it appears from the public docket that trial never went forward in JHL Pharmaceuticals, LLC v. PuraCap Laboratories, LLC.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel, as two cases in front of Judge Andrews appear to be headed for jury trials in the next month.

The first, USA v. Blue, is set to begin on Monday morning. As we've written before, the court is currently equipped to hold only one jury trial at a time, and Judge Andrews has designated …

In In Re Chanbond, LLC Patent Litigation, Judge Andrews denied a request for post-pretrial-order discovery on Friday. The request came after Defendants received an e-mail from attorneys from third-party Deirdre Leane alleging that her consent was required for any settlement between the defendants and plaintiff ChanBond:

On September 2, 2020, Defendants received an email from Ms. Leane’s counsel, informing them of a dispute between Ms. Leane and ChanBond. . . . The email stated, “As we read Section 8.3 of the ISA, Ms. Leane’s written consent is required given that a license is a transfer of an interest in the patents-in-suit, which in turn are material assets of ChanBond.” . . . The email warned, “[P]lease take notice …

I heard today from one of the magistrate judges (with permission to pass along) that, going forward, the District of Delaware is permitting in-court mediations again, at the discretion of each individual magistrate judge and on a case-by-case basis. The expectation is that the judges will limit the number of people attending the mediations, and that virtual proceedings will remain an option. It is also expected that the change may primarily benefit local cases, as patent cases often involve attorneys or client representatives traveling to Delaware from locations that may still have travel restrictions.

COVID-19
CDC / Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

Today, the District of Delaware formally lifted its jury trial ban:

The Standing Order RE: Criminal and Civil Jury Trial Suspension issued February 5, 2021[,] expires today, April 5, 2021. Based on current conditions and after consultation with the Court’s Reopening Committee, the Court has decided that it will not, at this time, extend the order. Whether and when any particular case will proceed to trial is left to the discretion of each individual judge of the Court.

There is a jury trial scheduled for today in JHL Pharmaceuticals, LLC v. PuraCap Laboratories, LLC, C.A. No. 18-553-MN (D. Del.), although it's not clear yet from the …

April
Charles Deluvio, Unsplash

No further news on April jury trials since our last update. The following two jury trials still appear to be set, with the first to start on Monday of next week:

  • 4/5/2021: JHL Pharmaceuticals, LLC v. PuraCap Laboratories, LLC, C.A. No. 18-553-MN (D. Del.): The parties in this contract action just filed a letter indicating that they have made efforts at settlement, at Judge Noreika's request, but this case is still set to go forward as of now. The Court held the pretrial conference today.
  • 4/26/2021: USA v. Tyshaun Blue, C.A. No. 20-63-RGA (D. Del.): No change; this case appears to be set to go later next month.

To my knowledge, if it goes forward next week, JHL will be the first post-pandemic jury trial in the District of Delaware ...

Peterson Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington, <a href='#' class='abbreviation' data-toggle='tooltip' data-placement='top' title='Delaware'>DE</a>
Peterson Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington, DE Andrew E. Russell, CC BY 2.0

The Delaware Supreme Court recently announced their expectation that they can safely return to jury trials in June, noting the recent decline in COVID-19 cases. They also announced that the 2021 bar examination for will be administered remotely.

The District of Delaware, however, is still set to restart jury trials on April 5. But there have been a few changes to D. Del.'s April jury trial calendar since our last update:

Trials Set to Proceed

  • 4/5/2021: JHL Pharmaceuticals, LLC v. PuraCap Laboratories, LLC, C.A. No. 18-553-MN (D. Del.) (contract …

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." ...