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Sorenson v. Target Corp.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


September 30, 2009

JENS ERIK SORENSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TARGET CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Barry Ted Moskowitz United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S ORDER

On July 27, Plaintiff Jens Erik Sorenson, acting as Trustee for the Sorenson Research and Development Trust ("Sorenson"), filed a Motion for Reconsideration of and Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Order. For the reasons explained below, Sorenson's Motion is DENIED. I. BACKGROUND

On January 14, 2009, Sorenson filed its Complaint against Defendant Target Corporation ("Target"), alleging patent infringement. On February 27, 2009, the Clerk entered default against Defendant. On March 24, 2009, the Court granted the parties' joint motion to set aside default. On the same day, the Court also granted the parties' joint motion to allow Plaintiff to file a corrected complaint and Defendant to file an answer thereto. The Court simultaneously permitted filing of Plaintiff's corrected Complaint. On March 31, 2009, Defendant filed its Answer.

On July 9, 2009, Plaintiff filed a motion requesting the scheduling of an early neutral evaluation conference before Magistrate Judge Bencivengo. On July 16, 2009, Magistrate Judge Bencivengo issued an order denying Plaintiff's motion [Docket No. 23]. On July 27, 2009, Plaintiff filed the instant motion objecting to Magistrate Judge Bencivengo's order and asking this Court to reconsider it. On September 11, 2009, Target filed a Response to Plaintiff's Motion. At the same time, Target filed a Motion to Stay which is set for hearing on November 13, 2009. Plaintiff filed a Reply on September 16, 2009.

II. STANDARD

A judge may designate a magistrate judge to hear and determine nondispositive pretrial matters. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). The district court may reconsider any pretrial matter where it is shown that the magistrate judge's order was clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Id. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a) also permits a party to file objections to a magistrate judge's order with the district court. "The district court in the case must consider timely objections and modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or contrary to law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a).

II. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff argues that the Court should set aside Magistrate Judge Bencivengo's order denying its motion to schedule an early neutral evaluation conference ("ENE conference") because it was clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Plaintiff contends that Patent Local Rule 2.1(a) requires parties to meet before the assigned magistrate judge within 60 days of the Defendant's first appearance in the case. Plaintiff further claims that Magistrate Judge Bencivengo's refusal to schedule an ENE conference pursuant to Patent Local Rule 2.1(a) is an effective stay of the action that prevents Plaintiff from prosecuting its case.

The Court disagrees. As Defendant points out, Patent Local Rule 1.3 provides that "[t]he court may accelerate, extend, eliminate, or modify the obligations or deadlines set forth in these Patent Local Rules based on the court's schedule or the circumstances of any particular case, including, without limitation, the complexity of the case or the number of patents, claims, products, or parties involved." Magistrate Judge Bencivengo properly considered the circumstances of this particular case in modifying the deadlines for scheduling the ENE conference. This case is one of over twenty related cases before this Court. The vast majority of the cases are presently stayed. The Court denied Plaintiff's own initial motion to consolidate the cases simply as premature due to the pending stays. See Sorenson v. Black & Decker Corp., No. 06cv1572 BTM (CAB) (S.D. Cal. May 5, 2008) (Order Denying Motion to Consolidate Cases [Docket No. 274]). If the Court eventually consolidates the cases are after it lifts the stays, it will be more efficient for Magistrate Judge Bencivengo to enter a comprehensive scheduling order for all of the cases at that time, as she noted in her order.

Thus, the Court finds that Magistrate Judge Bencivengo's order was not clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Moreover, the Court notes that Defendant's Motion for Stay in this case is currently set for hearing on November 13, 2009. Plaintiff's request for an ENE conference will be moot if the Court grants the stay.

III. CONCLUSION

For the reasons discussed above, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration of and Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Order.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20090930

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