The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court
ORDER DENYING JOINT MOTION TO BIFURCATE THE DAMAGES PHASE OF THIS CASE (Doc. No. 122)
The parties have submitted a joint motion to bifurcate the issue of damages for discovery and trial in this case. For the reasons explained below, the Court DENIES the parties' joint motion.
Plaintiff filed this action on July 1, 2008, alleging false advertising and trade libel. Magistrate Judge Porter initially issued a scheduling order on December 9, 2008, setting a timetable for discovery, motions, and pretrial matters. According to that initial Scheduling Order, the Pretrial Conference was set for December 21, 2009.
Upon the parties' joint motion, on February 24, 2009, Magistrate Judge Porter revised the parties' Scheduling Order, adjusting some of the interim discovery and other dates. Upon the parties' subsequent joint motion, Magistrate Judge Porter issued a Modified Scheduling Order on April 7, 2009, further extending the parties' time to conduct discovery and also continuing the Pretrial Conference to March 22, 2010.
Upon the parties' further joint motion, on August 6, 2009, this Court again continued the Pretrial Conference date to May 24, 2010, and on August 11, 2009, Magistrate Judge Porter issued another Modified Scheduling Order giving the parties additional time to conduct discovery and complete pretrial matters.
On September 9, 2009, Defendant Innovation Ventures, LLC filed an ex parte application seeking further extension of the discovery and pretrial conference dates. This application*fn1 sought an extension of the discovery and related dates, and requested that the Pretrial Conference be continued to September 13, 2010. Prior to obtaining a ruling on Defendant's application, the parties filed the current joint motion to bifurcate the damages phase of this case. Magistrate Judge Porter thereafter granted the Defendant's ex parte application, and issued yet another Modified Scheduling Order.
The parties' current joint motion asks the Court to bifurcate not only the trial, but also all fact and expert discovery relating to damages. The parties seek leave to proceed to pretrial and trial only on the issue of liability, and then, only if there is a finding of liability, commence discovery and proceed to trial on the issue of damages.
The parties' desire to conserve time and expense relating to damages discovery would have been reasonable if they had proposed bifurcation nearly ten months ago when the original Scheduling Order was issued, or at any time earlier this year when the parties were seeking one of their numerous extensions of time. However, the parties have already sought and obtained four extensions of their discovery dates. The Pretrial Conference has been continued three times, and is currently set for September 13, 2010. The parties' proposed bifurcation of discovery and trial on the issue of damages would significantly delay the final resolution of this case. Because of the length of time this case has been pending, and in light of the numerous continuances the parties have already obtained, the Court finds the parties' proposal is unreasonable and lacks good cause.
The parties' joint motion is DENIED.