For those patent cases that were on the eve of trial, or at least relatively close, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely represent a delay—either of a defined or undefined length—as reflected by some of the orders issued in those matters.
Central District of California (Southern Division—Santa Ana)
District Judge Josephine L. Staton
Sportspower Ltd., Inc. v. Crowntec Fitness Mfg. Ltd. – The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California’s Southern Division in Santa Ana sua sponte continued the pretrial hearing and deadlines for motions in limine from April 3, 2020 to August 7, 2020. The order was issued in accordance with the Central District of California’s Continuity of Operations Plan (“COOP”) which suspended hearings in civil cases, except emergency and time sensitive matters including temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions, as ordered by the assigned district judge. (Case No. 8:17-cv-02032; March 30, 2020).
Central District of California (Western Division—Los Angeles)
District Judge John A. Kronstadt
Nike, Inc. v. Skechers U.S.A., Inc. – The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California’s Western Division in Los Angeles issued a ruling on a number of motions, and instructed the parties to meet and confer and file a joint report about their respective views as to the potential trial dates of March 16, 2021 or March 30, 2021. The Court further indicated that its order setting a trial date will also set a date for a status conference in January 2021, which will proceed “if necessary to discuss a potential modification of the trial date in light of any ongoing issues related to COVID-19.” (Case No. 2:17-cv-08509; October 26, 2020).
Northern District of California (San Francisco)
District Judge Richard Seeborg
Gamevice, Inc. v. Nintendo Co., Ltd. et. al. – The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco granted plaintiff’s Motion and Order to Extend Schedule in View of COVID-19 Travel Restrictions, requesting an approximately three month extension in view of the difficulties in domestic and international travel due to COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions. The jury trial date, currently scheduled for July 6, 2020, was moved to October 26, 2020. The Final Pretrial Conference will be held on September 23, 2020. In an August 3, 2020 Notice Vacating Pretrial Conference And Jury Trial And Setting Further Case Management Conference, the pretrial conference and jury trial were vacated and the Court scheduled a Case Management Conference for September 3, 2020 at 10:00 AM to be held telephonically. (Case No. 3:18-cv-01942; May 19, 2020 and August 3, 2020).
Northern District of California (San Jose)
District Judge Beth Labson Freeman
Amazon.com, Inc., et al. v. PersonalWeb Techs., LLC, et al. – The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose granted the parties’ stipulation and order extending by two-days plaintiff’s deadline for filing its motion for attorney’s fees, due to COVID-19 and the shelter-in-place orders in San Francisco. (Case No. 5:18-cv-00767; March 19, 2020).
Amazon.com, Inc., et al. v. PersonalWeb Techs., LLC, et al. – The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose denied plaintiffs’ motion to stay a determination of attorney fees and costs pending appeal and rejected plaintiffs’ argument that public policy favored a stay due to the coronavirus outbreak. In analyzing the four factors to determine whether to stay awarding attorneys’ fees and costs pending appeal, the court found that plaintiffs had “made no showing that the public interest would be served by a stay -- only that the court’s ‘potentially reduced resources’ due to COVID-19 health concerns supports a stay.” The court acknowledged that COVID-19 has certainly impacted the courts’ operations across the country, however, it went on to say that “this Court continues to resolve substantive motions.” The court was not persuaded that any of the issues presented warranted a deviation from the court’s usual course of considering attorneys’ fees promptly after the merits decision rather than waiting for resolution of the appeal. (Case No. 5:18-cv-00767; April 20, 2020).
Finjan Inc. v. Cisco Systems Inc., – The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose issued Civil Minutes for the pretrial conference held via Zoom Webinar on April 30, 2020, in which the Court indicated that Jury Selection and the Trial have been set to start on June 22, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. At this time, the Court intends to seat a jury of 8 (subject to change) chosen from a panel of 50. The Court held a Case Management Conference on May 26, 2020, during which it reset the Jury trial date to October 19, 2020. On September 24, 2020 the Court issued an Order notifying the parties that the Northern District of California will resume civil trials on October 1, 2020, and confirming that the jury trial for this case will commence on October 19, 2020. In response to defendant’s Motion To Continue The October 19, 2020 Jury Trial Or To Implement Procedures That Ensure A Fair Trail, requesting that the Court continue the trial to January 2021 or in the alternative to November 2, 2020 to allow lead counsel to “ameliorate” a medical condition to allow him to wear a mask, the Court reset jury selection and trial for November 2, 2020. In addition, in order to avoid any potential prejudice or unfairness, the defendant had also requested that an Order be issued “requiring all fact witnesses to testify remotely and that neither party have a corporate representative at counsel table during trial”. On October 8, 2020, the Court denied defendant’s Motion To Continue The October 19, 2020 Jury Trial Or To Implement Procedures That Ensure A Fair Trail to the degree it requested that “the Court issue an Order requiring all fact witnesses to testify remotely and that neither party have a corporate representative at counsel table during trial.” The Court rejected the argument that such an order was necessary to ensure a fair trial, noting that “[v]ideo testimony has long been used when witnesses are not available for in court testimony and it has proved effective.” Each party was granted “complete discretion” to determine which of its witnesses will appear in court and which will appear remotely by video. In an October 23, 2020 Order, the Court continued the jury trial to January 11, 2021. (Case No. 5:17-cv-00072; April 30, 2020, May 21, 2020 & May 22, 2020, May 26, 2020, September 24, 2020, October 2, 2020, October 8, 2020 and October 23, 2020).
Southern District of California (San Diego)
District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo
Finjan, Inc. v. ESET, LLC, et al. – “Based upon the current state of extraordinary circumstances due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic,” the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego declared a mistrial, with the agreement of counsel, after suspending the jury trial proceedings and excusing the jury for the day. (Case No. 3:17-cv-00183; March 16, 2020).
District Judge Janis L. Sammartino
Genentech, Inc. v. Eli Lilly and Co. – The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego, finding good cause, granted the parties’ joint motion to bifurcate the “exceptional case” determination under 35 U.S.C. § 285 and attorney fees motion under Rule 54(d)(2), allowing the court to decide the exceptionality before defendant presents evidence on the amount of its reasonable attorney fees. The parties’ request is in response to stay-at-home orders issued throughout the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made it “difficult for the defendant to collect and timely organize their billing information necessary to meet their burden to prove reasonableness of attorney fees.” (Case No. 3:18-cv-01518; March 31, 2020).
District of Colorado (Denver)
Chief District Judge Philip A. Brimmer
Barnett v. Surefire Medical, Inc. et al. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado in Denver granted defendant’s Motion to Strike [Plaintiff’s] Jury Demand and denied plaintiff’s Motion for Trial Before an Advisory Jury, ordering that the four day jury trial set to commence on January 25, 2021 at 8:00 a.m. is reset for a bench trial beginning on the same date and time. The Court decided to exercise its discretion and decline to empanel an advisory jury, noting that the plaintiff concedes that no legal issues remain and “empaneling an advisory jury during a pandemic does not make sense.” (Case No. 1:17-cv-02470; September 28, 2020).
District of Delaware (Wilmington)
Baxalta Incorporated et al v. Bayer Healthcare LLC – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington issued a Scheduling Order in which it continued the trial due to the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that it “really doubt[ed] that a jury trial is feasible on September 21st under the circumstances.” The Court felt a jury could be selected, however, “realistically . . . it would be a lot better to have a test jury trial where the practical difficulties of the trial are not exacerbated by having nearly every significant participant in the trial being from out-of-state.” Although it doubted that the parties would consent to a bench trial, the Court did note that such a trial would be possible to proceed as currently scheduled. The Court also expressed “concern that six months (and counting) of postponed trials is going to be a problem going forward” and that the “parties should expect to be double- or triple-booked for trial . . . [and] that they may not know until the eve of trial whether their trial will move forward.” In an Order After Conference, the Court reset the jury trial date for March 15, 2021. (Case No. 1:17-cv-01316; August 12, 2020 and August 31, 2020).
ChanBond LLC vs. Cox Communications Inc. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington issued an Order After Pretrial Conference adopting the Proposed Pretrial Order and indicating that the jury trial will begin on August 18, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. (EDT). The Court stated that “[t]he question of the viability of a civil jury trial a month and a half from now, complicated in this case by a multitude of witnesses being located within the United States but distant from Delaware, and the procedures that would be necessary should we be able to go forward, were left for another day.” In a July 15, 2020 Oral Order, the Court postponed the jury trial. In a October 13, 2020 Order, the jury trial was scheduled for May 17, 2021, at 9:00 a.m. The parties were instructed to submit a joint status report two months before the start of trial identifying any outstanding pretrial issues that need to be addressed, including whether they are having any witness availability issues. (Case No. 1:15-cv-00842; July 2, 2020, July 15, 2020 and October 13, 2020).
Horizon Medicines LLC v. Alkem Laboratories Ltd. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington issued an Order rejecting a proposal to delay the bench trial, currently scheduled to proceed on September 14-16, 2020, until early 2021 so “that all witnesses attend the trial and testify in person.” The Court stated that it expects to go forward with the trial as scheduled, because the thirty-month stay will expire on November 30, 2020, and the defendant “may be in a position vis-à-vis the FDA’s requirements to launch then or soon thereafter.” As such it is in “the public interest” that the case be decided before then so that if not enjoined the defendant “has the option to launch and to provide generic competition.” With respect to the witnesses “unable or unwilling to testify in person”, the Court indicated that they may testify by video. The Court further noted that its expects “to have a limited number of lawyers, probably two per side, actually present in the courtroom . . . [that masking] and social distancing will be enforced . . . [and any] other persons (party representatives, other lawyers, support staff, the public) will not be in the courtroom, but will be able to watch the proceedings via video feed in another room or courtroom.” In an Order After Pretrial Conference, the Court indicated that the bench trial will begin on September 14, 2020 at 8:30 a.m. (EDT). The Court also indicated that trial counsel shall be “limited to two attorneys per side, with no substitutions.” (Case No. 1:18-cv-01014; July 29, 2020 and August 31, 2020).
Ingevity Corp., et al. v. BASF Corp. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington granted the plaintiff’s request for a continuance of the jury trial, due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, finding “there is little chance for a successful jury trial on September 14th, and I think it is prudent to continue it now.” The Court noted that “this is a jury trial, not a bench trial, and, while I believe that most bench trials should be able to be fairly conducted through partial or complete reliance upon video technology, a jury trial is a different animal.” The Court did not, however, continue the August 28, 2020 pretrial conference, indicating in a separate oral order, that it will be held using Skype for business. In an Order After Pretrial Conference, the Court indicated that the jury trial will begin on January 4, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. (EST). The Court indicated that under the present plans trial counsel would be limited to two per side and noted that during the conference it had “explained some of its expectations in relation to COVID-19, and also set a conference on December 14, 2020, at 10 a.m. to further refine them in light of then-current events.” (Case No. 1:18-cv-01391; August 3, 2020 and August 28, 2020).
M2M Solutions LLC v. Sierra Wireless America, Inc. et al. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington issued an Order rejecting a joint request that the Court postpone the pre-trial and trial dates due to continuing complications resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The parties indicated in their joint letter that “the safety and practicality of conducting a jury trial under the current circumstances, travel by co-counsel and witnesses remains a significant concern.” The Court stated that it is “not now inclined to continue the trial to spring 2021 . . . [because circumstances] could change for the better; travel restrictions could be lifted . . . [and] the pretrial conference, at least, can be done remotely.” The parties were invited to submit a letter after Thanksgiving “revisiting the issue in light of then-existing circumstances.” The pretrial conference is currently set for December 18, 2020, and a 5-day jury trial is set to begin on January 11, 2021. (Case No. 1:14-cv-01102; October 2, 2020).
Pfizer, Inc., et al. v. Apotex, Inc., et al. – On April 15, 2020, the parties’ request to continue a previously issued stay was granted and the April 29th pretrial conference, as well as the bench trial scheduled for May 11, 2020 was continued to an undetermined date. (Case No. 1:18-cv-00795; April 15, 2020).
Sprint Communications Company L.P. v. Charter Communications, Inc. et al. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington granted the defendants’ request for a continuance of the jury trial currently scheduled to begin on October 5, 2020, due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that the Court did not think “it prudent to make the first civil jury trial in Delaware be one in which the risk from the nature of the case – no one from Delaware but me, court staff, and the jury – is at the maximum, particularly when there is essentially no harm from delay.” The defendants had argued, among other things, that many of the counsel and witnesses would need to travel to Delaware from other states and that “given the size of [the] case and the number of counsel involved, a trial that limits Defendants to 4-6 people in the courtroom would be unduly prejudicial . . . with 8 or more counsel anticipated to handle aspects of the trial.” In the Order, the Court indicated that if the trial were held on October 5th it would only allow 2 attorneys per side in the Courtroom, further stating that it “may insist on this practice for some time.” (Case No. 1:17-cv-01734; September 2, 2020).
TQ Delta LLC v. ADTRAN Inc. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington issued an Oral Order directing the parties to advise the Court of their views regarding the “feasibility” of the scheduled jury trial currently set to begin on August 31, 2020. In particular, the parties were requested “to state which witnesses they intend to call live, to identify the states in which the witnesses live and their views on travel to Delaware then, and to identify any other currently known concerns about the scheduled trial.” The Court granted defendant’s Motion to Strike Reply Expert Opinions Based on the Doctrine of Equivalents, in part because it found that “the COVID-19 pandemic has already disrupted plans for an ‘orderly and efficient trial,’ [and] re-opening discovery to give Defendant an opportunity to cure the prejudice would only disrupt the schedule further.” In a separate Oral Order, the Court indicated that the pretrial conference scheduled for August 21, 2020, will be held using Skype for business. On August 4, 2020, the Court granted defendant’s request for a continuance of the trial, with the Court finding that various “factors” made it believe that this case is not a “particularly good case with which to conduct a jury experiment during a pandemic.” Counsel and many of the witnesses would be coming from out of state, including two defendant fact witnesses and an expert witness, who is in a “high-risk category”, that do not want to travel to Delaware for the trial as scheduled. The Court also noted that Delaware is still in Phase One of reopening and by standing order has postponed all jury trials through August 30, 2020; it did “not think it is prudent to maintain a schedule for a jury trial for the first day on which it is currently possible to hold such a trial.” (Case No. 1:14-cv-00954; July 28, 2020, July 31, 2020, August 3, 2020, August 4, 2020 and November 6, 2020).
Public Access Information for Hearing
November 13, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. (EST)
Phone No.: 1-202-503-1666
Conf. ID: 442633658
District Judge William C. Bryson
Lipocine Inc. v. Clarus Therapeutics, Inc. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington issued an Order clarifying the schedule in response to a submission from plaintiff requesting guidance as to scheduling of events up to and including the trial. The Court indicated that, in light of the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, the February 2021 jury will likely be postponed. As such, the parties were instructed to assume that the February 8, 2021 trial date will not hold, for the purposes of making necessary arrangements for trial. The parties were further instructed, however, that the remaining scheduled tasks set forth in the scheduling order were not postponed, and should be completed as currently scheduled to “ensure the maximum flexibility in rescheduling the trial if doing so becomes necessary.” The Court further indicated that it will conduct the jury trial on legal issues first and the bench trial on the inequitable conduct issue afterwards, considering any evidence that is introduced at the jury trial but is also relevant to inequitable conduct. (Case No. 1:19-cv-00622; November 12, 2020).
TC Technology LLC v. Sprint Corporation et al. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington denied the defendants’ motion to postpone the jury trial, scheduled to start on August 24, 2020, which sought a continuance of at least three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Court noted that although the District of Delaware has removed all trials from the calendar for the month of July, no action has yet been taken as to trials scheduled for August 2020. The Court indicated it will issue a further order with regard to whether the trial in this case will go forward as scheduled or will be postponed after the District of Delaware makes a decision regarding trials scheduled to be held in August. The Court ordered that the jury trial be rescheduled, pursuant to the District of Delaware’s July 17, 2020 Revised Standing Order Re: Criminal And Civil Jury Selections And Jury Trials, continuing all civil and criminal jury selections and jury trials in the District scheduled to begin before August 31, 2020. The Court directed the parties to meet and confer in order to seek agreement as to a new trial date, further indicating that it will not be able to conduct a jury trial prior to March 2021. The Court converted the July 31, 2020 pretrial conference to a telephonic status conference, as requested by the parties, to be held at 10 a.m. (EDT). It further indicated that the pretrial conference will be rescheduled at a later date. On August 24, 2020, the Court reset the jury trial to begin on May 10, 2021. (Case No. 1:16-cv-00153; June 30, 2020, July 17, 2020, July 24, 2020 and August 24, 2020).
Shire ViroPharma Inc. v. CSL Behring LLC – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington ordered the parties to submit by June 9, 2020 “a letter of no more than two pages setting forth their clients’ positions on conducting a bench trial in this matter”; and in a further Order, required the parties to submit by June 15, 2020 “a letter of no more than three (3) pages setting forth their respective positions, with any relevant authority, as to whether a bench trial can and should proceed on the issues of invalidity and/or inequitable conduct.” In an effort to move the “otherwise trial-ready case forward”, the Court sought the parties’ input regarding how to proceed, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has “currently rendered the scheduling of jury trials difficult if not impossible.” Plaintiff declined to waive its right to a jury trial, in response to the suggestion that the parties consider proceeding with a bench trial on all claims, however it “agreed that the inequitable conduct claim could be resolved via a bench trial, but pressed that (a) it is entitled to a jury trial on Defendants’ counterclaim of invalidity, and (b) any bench trial on inequitable conduct should not proceed until after the jury trial on infringement and invalidity.” The Court agreed that with respect to defendant’s invalidity counterclaims, plaintiff is entitled as a matter of right to a jury trial, therefore it “must try both Plaintiff’s infringement claim and Defendants’ invalidity counterclaim before a jury, and in light of the current limitation on jury trials, the question still remains as to whether a bench trial can proceed solely on Defendants’ counterclaim for inequitable conduct prior to the jury trial on infringement/invalidity.” The Court further ruled that it must “determine whether there are ‘common factual issues’ between Defendant’s counterclaim for invalidity and Defendant’s counterclaim for inequitable conduct, such that a bifurcated bench trial on inequitable conduct prior to a jury trial on infringement/invalidity would violate Plaintiff’s Seventh Amendment rights.” Lacking sufficient information to make this determination of whether or not “common factual issues” exist, the Court directed the parties to submit letter briefs specifying the facts they intend to introduce regarding the invalidity and inequitable conduct counterclaims. After reviewing the parties’ letters, the Court found “that there is a risk of overlapping factual issues on the inequitable conduct and invalidity claims such that a bench trial on equitable conduct should not proceed before a jury trial on the other two claims.” The Court further indicated that it had spoken with Chief Judge Leonard Stark regarding trial scheduling, and advised the parties “that once Delaware courtrooms are cleared for civil trials, a trial date will be selected forthwith.” (Case No. 1:17-cv-00414; June 4, 2020, June 11, 2020, July 29, 2020 and September 17, 2020).
District Judge Maryellen Noreika
TRUSTID, Inc. v. Next Caller Inc. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington ordered the parties to submit a letter by June 30, 2020, stating either that all parties agree to go forward with the pretrial conference on July 6, 2020 live in the Courthouse or that all parties do not so agree to proceed live. The Court indicated it was “cognizant that traveling from other parts of the country or appearing live in court may present obstacles for counsel, [and therefore] the conference will take place live in court only if 1) all parties agree and 2) all attendees wear face coverings unless excused because social distancing is observed.” If all parties do not agree to an in-person proceeding, the pretrial conference will take place telephonically or at a later date when it can be held in-person. The Court further advised the parties that “[i]f the hearing proceeds in the courtroom, each side may have no more than two (2) counsel present, only one of whom may sit at counsel table at any given time [and arguments] will be made from counsel table.” The jury trial is currently set to begin on December 14, 2020. In a July 2, 2020 Order, the Court postponed the pretrial conference to a date to be determined. The Court reset the pretrial conference for December 7, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. (EST) and indicated that “the format (live or remote) [will] be determined closer to the time of the conference.” In response to a joint request from the parties to postpone the 5-day jury trial “in view of the parties’ concerns about conducting a jury trial in the midst of the on-going pandemic,” the Court reset the jury trial for July 12, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. (EDT), and reset the pretrial conference for June 28, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. (EDT). (Case No. 1:18-cv-00172; June 29, 2020, July 2, 2020, September 25, 2020 and November 5, 2020).
Adverio Pharma GmbH et al v. MSN Laboratories Private Limited et al. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington issued an Oral Order ruling on a number of recent filings. The Court indicated that it intends to proceed, as scheduled, in December, with as much of the remote bench trial as possible, possibly the entirety of the trial. The Court had previously stated that it expected to be available for trial at some or all of the following times: December 14: 12 pm to 7 pm; December 15, 16, 17, 18: 8 am to 7 pm; December 22: 8 am to 12 pm; and December 23: 8 am to 1 pm. The Court was not persuaded by Plaintiffs that its fact witnesses are unavailable to testify live (remotely) or that, if they are unavailable, that admission of their deposition testimony is not a fair substitute. The Court stated that both sides will have a full and fair opportunity to present their positions (before, during, and after trial) as to whether any non-appearance of any witnesses live at trial is due to issues relating to the merits of the inequitable conduct allegations, travel restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, or other factors. The Court further set a teleconference with the parties to be held on Wednesday, November 25, 2020, beginning at 11:00 a.m. (EST) to discuss their proposals and any disputes in the joint status report and how the case should now proceed. (Case No. 1:18-cv-00073; November 18, 2020).
Align Technology, Inc. v. 3Shape A/S et al. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington issued an Oral Order, after reviewing the parties' Joint Status Report, setting the first of plaintiff’s seven trials against defendant for April 12, 2021 before a jury with a bench trial on the equitable defenses to be held concurrently or immediately after the conclusion of the jury trial. The next trial to be held would be case initiated by the defendant to followed by the remaining trials initiated by the plaintiff. Among the considerations cited by the Court in making its determinations was “the Court's highly constrained resources (especially with respect to its ability to conduct jury trials), particularly during the pandemic.” The Court also noted agreement with plaintiff’s position “that it would not be prudent ‘to burden the jury [in the first action] with an additional, unnecessary decision’ by requiring an advisory jury verdict on equitable issues.” (Case No. 1:17-cv-01646; November 13, 2020).
A. O. Smith Corporation v. Bradford White Corporation – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington issued an Oral Order, after reviewing the parties' Joint Status Report, indicating that the Court “is not currently able to accommodate the parties' request to move the bench trial from July 21 to the week of September 21 or October. Due to other trials on the Court's calendar, the options currently available are: (i) July 21-31; (ii) August 14-24; or (iii) September 23-25 (full days) followed by late afternoon/evening sessions from September 29 until the conclusion of trial.” The Court further indicated that it is “giving serious consideration to ordering [the] trial to be a remote trial, whenever it occurs” and ordered the parties to meet and confer and submit another joint status report indicating their positions on how the case should now proceed. After reviewing the further status report and balancing “the parties' preferences, the interests of public safety, and the Court's calendar”, the Court ordered “that: (i) the bench trial will be a remote trial, such that all attorneys and all witnesses will appear by way of videoconferencing technology and only Court staff will be in the courtroom; (ii) trial will be held on some or all of the following days, subject to the parties' time limits: August 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21; (iii) the proposed pretrial order is due on July 27; and (iv) the pretrial conference will be held (via video conference) on August 5 at 4:30 p.m.” On August 4, 2020, the Court issued a Memorandum Order dealing with a number of issues relating to the bench trial scheduled to begin on August 14, 2020, ruling on a number of MIL’s and directing the parties to be prepared at the pretrial conference to discuss “modifications of the Court’s standard procedures (regarding, e.g., provision of copies of exhibits to opposing counsel, adverse witnesses, and the Court) given that this trial will be conducted entirely remotely.” On August 20, 2020, the Court docketed a Minute Entry marking the conclusion of the bench trial held before Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark from August 14, 2020 through August 20, 2020. (Case No. 1:18-cv-00412; June 24, 2020, June 30, 2020, August 4, 2020 and August 20, 2020).
Cirba, Inc. d/b/a Densify, et al. v. VMware, Inc. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington granted in part defendant’s request to modify the post-trial briefing schedule, ordering that all post-trial opposition briefs are due April 3, 2020. The court recognized that “further discovery may be necessary after briefing has concluded and/or following argument on the motions” but “disagree[d] that such discovery should occur before briefing can proceed. However, considering challenges and concerns relating to COVID-19, a slight modification to the schedule is appropriate.” (Case No. 1:19-cv-00742; March 27, 2020).
Guardant Health, Inc. v. Foundation Medicine, Inc. – On April 23, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington granted the defendant's motion to continue a trial scheduled to begin on June 8, 2020, due to the viral outbreak until either July or October 2020. In doing so, the court expressed its primary concern as to “whether it will be safe and consistent with the public interest to conduct jury selection (a process likely to involve more than 40 citizens and an approximately equal number of court staff, lawyers, and party representatives) and empanel a jury (which would then, in normal practice, consist of 8 jurors confined to a jury box and a jury room during working hours for at least a week).” The court also noted a further secondary concern, irrespective of whether it is possible to select and empanel a jury by June 8th, as to whether “it will be safe and prudent for counsel and all required witnesses and party representatives to travel from their homes at various locations around the country and spend a week or more together (in hotels or temporary residences, in restaurants, in the courtroom, etc.) in Delaware.” Given the trial is only about six weeks away, the court felt that since it “seems nearly certain that one or more” of the trial team members or an expected live witness is part of a vulnerable population, or has commitments to others who need special care under the current circumstances that takes “precedence over the Court’s strong interest in keeping its cases moving and conducting trials in a timely manner[.]” On September 25, 2020 the Court ordered the parties to meet and confer and submit a joint status report including their proposals for how the case should proceed in light on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the parties were instructed to address “whether the Court should consider continuing the trial to a date certain, continuing the trial to a date to be determined, proceeding with the trial as scheduled but converting it to a bench trial (and, if so, whether it should be partially or wholly remote), or proceeding with the trial as scheduled as a jury trial (and, if so, what restrictions the Court should consider regarding the number of attorneys and witnesses and others who may be in the courtroom). On October 5, 2020, the Court advised the parties that courtroom space is available for a potential November 30 trial date and ordered them to meet and confer and submit a joint status report no later than October 6, 2020, advising the Court whether it should reschedule trial for November 30, 2020. In addition, the parties were ordered to “advise the Court of their views on: (1) foregoing any jury trial right in favor of a bench trial; (2) whether there are any members of the trial team or any party who cannot or should not travel to Delaware and be physically present in the courtroom due to their own health situation or the health situation of those with whom they reside; (3) whether any witnesses cannot or should not travel to Delaware and be physically present in the courtroom for the same reasons; (4) which witnesses the parties propose will appear in person and which will appear by remote video conferencing technology; and (5) whether the court should restrict the number of attorneys and trial team members present in the courtroom.” On October 16, 2020, the Court ordered that the jury trial will commence on November 30, 2020 and the pretrial conference will be conducted via videoconference technology and held on November 13, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. The Court stated that if delayed it was unclear when trial would occur, since there are at least 200 civil jury trials scheduled for 2021 in the District of Delaware (not including criminal trials and continued civil trials awaiting a new trial date) and under current restrictions only one jury trial may proceed at a time. The Court adopted the parties suggestions that all witnesses testify remotely, because not all of the witnesses could travel to Delaware and the Court was concerned about the “risk of unfair prejudice to one side, should more of its witnesses (or a more ‘important’ witness) not be able to come to the courtroom than is the case for the other side.” The Court further limited each side to a maximum of five representatives physically present in the courtroom at any one time, with one slot reserved for Delaware counsel, but did not require that each slot be occupied by the same person each day. In addition, a video feed of the trial will be transmitted to another courtroom in the courthouse. The parties were also permitted to state and preserve objections to the order and how the trial will be conducted, including, for example, a concern raised that “ the jury pool and jury will not be representative due to the situation that exists in Delaware (and several other states).” On November 2, 2020, the Court issued an Order continued the jury trial scheduled for November 30, 2020 to a date to be determined, and directing the parties to meet and confer and submit a joint status report. On November 2, 2020, the Court issued an Order continuing the jury trial scheduled for November 30, 2020 to a date to be determined, and directing the parties to meet and confer and submit a joint status report. On November 17, 2020, the Court issued a Memorandum Order overruling defendant’s COVID-related objections, including raising safety concerns and questioning the ability to select a representative jury, but ultimately determined it had to continue trial indefinitely to allow the parties to litigate defendant’s “very serious” spoliation allegations. (Case No. 1:17-cv-01616; April 23, 2020, September 25, 2020, October 5, 2020, October 16, 2020, November 2, 2020 and November 17, 2020).
H. Lundbeck A/S et al v. Apotex Inc. et al. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington issued an Oral Order ruling on a number of motions and indicating that a scheduled teleconference would “be devoted to beginning a conversation about the timing and logistics of the remaining expert discovery and trial, all of which have been complicated by the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic.” In preparation the Court advised the parties that due to the pandemic, it had to reschedule five jury trials (including a high-priority detained defendant criminal trial) into the same slot (October 13-23) currently scheduled for the case and that the next open calendar slot during which the Court could “give five or more largely consecutive, largely uninterrupted trial days is not until 2021.” The Court also indicated that it is considering the possibility of conducting the trial remotely, with no attorneys or witnesses in the courtroom, or partially-remotely, with a small number of lawyers and some of the witnesses in the courtroom but most participants appearing remotely, and to conducting it "after-hours" and on non-consecutive days, in an effort to hold the trial in a safe manner sometime during 2020. In a July 6, 2020 Order, the Court rescheduled the bench trial indicating that it “will be held on some or all of the following dates, subject to the parties' time limits: January 4-8 and January 26-29, 2021.” The pretrial conference will be held on December 22, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. (Case No. 1:18-cv-00088; June 25, 2020 and July 6, 2020).
Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc. v. Oxford Nanopore Technologies Inc. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington denied, among other rulings, plaintiff’s motion for a new trial due to defendant’s COVID-related comments made during the opening and at other times throughout the jury trial. The Court found that the plaintiff failed to show that the statements were so prejudicial as to affect the fairness of the trial to cause manifest injustice, plaintiff did not meet its burden to show that the statements probably influenced the jury’s verdict, and that the “curative instructions fully cured the unfair prejudice to [plaintiff] from the violation of the MIL order from defendants’ opening statement.” The Court also pointed to the fact the verdict was mixed and “the verdict simply gives no indication that the jury was inflamed by nor influenced by defendants’ MIL violation.” (Case No. 1:17-cv-00275; August 13, 2020).
Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals LP v. Powder Springs Logistics, LLC et al. – The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington sua sponte ordered the parties to submit a joint status report whether the trial, scheduled to begin on July 20, 2020, could proceed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the parties were directed to meet and confer and submit a joint status report, “advising the Court of their views on, among other things: (i) whether they believe trial can and should proceed on July 20; (ii) whether they believe they have a right to a jury trial and, if so, whether they are willing to waive that right in favor of a bench trial; and (iii) whether, if the trial proceeds on July 20, any witnesses might request to appear by video or other remote technology rather than travel to the courtroom.” The Court will hold a status teleconference on July 15 at 11 a.m. (EDT). The trial is scheduled to begin on August 3, 2020 and the pretrial conference is scheduled for July 27, 2020 at 2 p.m. (EDT). After giving “due consideration to the parties’ input and preferences, as well as the physical and staff limitations of the courtroom and courthouse, and mindful of its utmost duty to take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of the citizens who will be called as jurors, the Court  decided to impose the type of restrictions on in-court participation it was contemplating in its questions to the parties.” In particular, the August jury trial will be conducted with no live witnesses testifying in the courtroom, limitations on the representatives in the courtroom for the parties, a simulcast videp feed into another room in the courthouse providing access to interested members of the public and press and other trial members who are not using one of the allotted courtroom slots, and any other special arrangements needed to be made with the Court’s staff to allow the trial to take place partially-remotely, including taking all “necessary steps to eliminate paper exhibits (i.e., absent compelling reason, all exhibits shall be displayed to witnesses and the jury electronically.)” The Court further indicated that it was “working with a District-wide committee to develop protocols for jury selection and for allowing the jury, Court staff, and counsel to interact safely in the courtroom.” It will be providing “further guidance in the coming weeks” how the trial “will differ from the pre-pandemic trials”; for example, “how voir dire will be conducted, where the jury will be seated, where the jury will go during breaks and deliberations, where counsel tables will be placed, how to ensure that exhibits needed for cross-examination are kept secure until needed, whether counsel will be permitted to be present in the same room with witnesses who are being examined remotely, face covering and any other PPE requirements for those  in the courtroom.” Following a July 13, 2020 teleconference, the jury trial scheduled to begin on August 3, 2020 was continued. In a July 17, 2020 Order, the Court directed the parties to meet and confer and submit a joint status report providing their views about when the trial should be set for trial. In addition, the pretrial conference scheduled for July 27, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. (EDT) was converted to a teleconference. On August 20, 2020, the Court entered an Oral Order after “[h]aving reviewed the parties' August 14, 2020 joint status report (D.I. 604), and having considered the parties' positions as well as the ongoing uncertainty regarding resumption of civil jury trials and the uncertainty of the Court's schedule,” ordering the parties to “meet and confer and, on September 4, submit another joint status report, providing their updated positions as to how this case should now proceed.” On October 7, 2020, the Court issued an Oral Order directing the parties to meet and confer and submit another joint status report advising the Court of their and their witnesses' availability for a jury trial to be held between November 30 and December 10. The parties were also advised that the Court has not yet decided not to hold trial beginning on November 5 (with jury selection on November 2 and/or 3) but is considering other options. The Court also informed the parties that it had issued its Jury Trial Restart Guidelines, available on the Court's website, which the Court intends to discuss with the parties when trial is scheduled. After numerous discussions with the parties regarding whether and when to schedule jury trial, the Court indicated it has “found (unfortunately) no date that is reasonable and available to all parties and to the Court.” Therefore, the Court ordered that the trial be continued until a date to be determined, “most likely in 2021 (and certainly NOT in 2020).” It was also noted that “any trial may need to be further rescheduled due to further developments, including the evolving public health situation and other cases (especially criminal cases) that may require trial.” (Case No. 1:17-cv-01390; June 9, 2020, June 24, 2020, July 2, 2020, July 13, 2020, July 17, 2020, August 20, 2020, October 7, 2020 and October 13, 2020).
Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals LP v. Powder Springs Logistics, LLC et al. Order - July 13, 2020
Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals LP v. Powder Springs Logistics, LLC et al. Order - July 17, 2020
Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals LP. v. Powddre Springs Logistics, LLC et al. - Jury Restart Guidelines - October 7, 2020
Middle District of Florida (Tampa)
Pierce Mfg., Inc., et al. v. E-One, Inc., et al. – The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa issued a notice to the parties in cases presiding before Judge Thomas P. Barber regarding jury trials. The notice states that “Judge Barber is interested in attempting short, ‘in person’ civil jury trials (no more than two days including jury selection) in late September/October. Such cases may be reset for trial during this period, regardless of any previously set trial dates, as long as ALL participants, including witnesses, are comfortable proceeding “in person.” If you believe you have a case that meets these parameters and would like to discuss the possibility of proceeding to trial in late September/October, please contact Courtroom Deputy Sonya Cohn by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than AUGUST 31, 2020. Judge Barber will then set a Status Conference, most likely by ZOOM, to further discuss the case. If, during the Status Conference, all participants agree the case is ready and appropriate for a jury trial, the trial will take place on a “date certain” that is mutually agreed upon by the parties and the Court.” The notice goes on to say that “[c]ounsel are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. Once jury trials resume, it is anticipated that criminal cases will consume most, if not all, available trial time for several months.” The jury trial was set to begin on January 25, 2020 and the Status Conference was set for December 9, 2020 at 01:30 PM via Zoom. (Case No. 8:18-cv-00617; August 20, 2020 and September 3, 2020).
Senior District Judge James S. Moody, Jr.
Pierce Mfg., Inc., et. al. v. E-One, Inc., et. al. – The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa ordered, over plaintiffs’ objections, that the November 5, 2018 preliminary injunction be modified to allow defendant E-One, Inc. to sell its Metro 100 single rear axle quint during the pendency of any delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and further ordered the terms governing the interim sales and the amount of damages, if applicable, that will be awarded for those interim sales. (Case No. 8:18-cv-00617, transferred on June 8, 2020 to District Judge Thomas P. Barber; April 8, 2020).
District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr.
Acceleron, LLC v. Dell, Inc. – The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta continued the trial scheduled to begin on June 1, 2020 to August 1, 2020, due to COVID-19. The Court held a teleconference on June 9, 2020 with the parties to discuss the upcoming August jury trial and COVID-19 pandemic guidelines. The parties were directed to inform the Court by June 12th whether they would agree to have a bench trial. If a bench trial is not a possibility, the Court indicated that the jury trial will be continued to October 19-30th, with all other deadlines remaining the same. The jury trial was reset for February 1, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. (EDT). (Case No. 1:12-cv-04123; May 4, 2020, June 9, 2020 and June 18, 2020).
Chief District Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr.
Acceleron, LLC v. Dell, Inc. – The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta sua sponte amended General Order 20-01 regarding Court Operations Under the Exigent Circumstances Created by COVID-19 and Related Coronavirus dated March 20, 2020, extending the court’s original 30-day continuance for all jury trials and any trial specific deadlines through and including May 15, 2020. (Case No. 1:12-cv-04123, presiding before District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr.; April 1, 2020).
Intellectual Sporting Goods, LLC v. StarPro Greens, Inc. – The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta sua sponte amended General Order 20-01 regarding Court Operations Under the Exigent Circumstances Created by COVID-19 and Related Coronavirus dated March 20, 2020, extending the court’s original 30-day continuance for all jury trials and any trial specific deadlines through and including May 15, 2020. (Case No. 1:19-cv-04161, presiding before District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr.; March 20, 2020).
District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly
NeuroGrafix, et al. v. Brainlab, Inc., et al. – The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago sua sponte vacated the June 1, 2020 trial date and the May 19, 2020 final pretrial conference. The Court advised the parties that, upon resumption of regular court proceedings (possibly in early June), “the district will be prioritizing criminal jury trials involving defendants in custody, and then (likely) criminal trials involving defendants not in custody that had to be moved due to the suspension of court proceedings, with civil jury trials getting a lower priority in the near term.” The Court further indicated that if it had to predict, the trial date likely will have to be reset to late summer at the very earliest. However, it was noted that “there may be significantly greater leeway regarding an earlier trial date were the parties to agree to a bench trial, though the Court understands that each side has a right to a jury trial and is perfectly fine with either a jury trial or a bench trial.” In a previous order on April 17, 2020, terminating plaintiffs' “emergency” motion for clarification stemming from the court's earlier invocation of the so-called advocate-witness rule, the Court rejected an apparent contention (among other grounds) that the coronavirus pandemic is an extraordinary circumstance that should lead the Court to set aside the advocate-witness rule for purposes of trial. In that earlier order the Court found that “[t]he health-related considerations that plaintiffs identify are not a basis to overturn this long-established rule of professional conduct, which has a direct bearing on the opposing party's right to have a fair trial, and in any event those concerns can be dealt with by other means.” In a September 4, 2020 Minute entry, the Court set the pretrial conference for October 23, 2020 to be held via video and directed the parties to advise the Court in writing by September 18, 2020 whether the case will proceed by jury trial or bench trial. During a status hearing held on October 8, 2020, the Court indicated that the jury trial will likely begin on November 3, 2020. The parties were ordered to meet in person on October 9, 2020 in the courtroom, with the Court indicating that attendees must wear masks, regarding the list of witnesses that will be testifying at the trial and if the testimony will be in person, by video, or by deposition. The parties were further directed to provide a complete and comprehensive list at the start of the trial logistics meeting being held the same day because the Court needed the information to plan for trial during the pandemic. After receiving an “utterly incomprehensible and partially illegible” witness list submission, the parties were directed to provide “for planning purposes” a legible list identifying for each side: (1) the witnesses it intends to call; (2) the city and state where the witness resides; (3) whether the witness's testimony will be presented in person, by remote video, or by deposition; and (4) any objections by the other side to the calling of the witness (without responses). The jury trial began on November 3, 2020, however a mistrial was granted on November 4, 2020 upon plaintiff's oral motion for the reasons stated on the record. The remaining jury trial dates were vacated and the jury trial was continued until March 1, 2021 at 9:45 a.m. (Case No. 1:12-cv-06075; April 17, 2020, May 7, 2020, September 4, 2020, October 8, 2020, October 9, 2020 and November 4, 2020).