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Hoyt A. Fleming v. Tom Coverstone

December 1, 2010

HOYT A. FLEMING,
PLAINTIFF,
V. TOM COVERSTONE, DEFENDANT. TOM COVERSTONE, COUNTERCLAIMANT,
v.
HOYT A. FLEMING; TERESA A. FLEMING; AND PARK, VAUGHAN & FLEMING, LLP, COUNTERDEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hayes, Judge:

ORDER

The matter before the Court is the Motion to Stay Trial filed by Defendant Tom Coverstone. (ECF No. 150).

BACKGROUND

I. Procedural History

This action concerns a dispute over the sale of a patent portfolio. On February 28, 2008, Hoyt A. Fleming ("Fleming") initiated this action by filing a complaint against Tom Coverstone ("Coverstone"). (ECF No. 1).

In March 2009, Fleming filed a separate lawsuit in the Federal District of Idaho alleging patent infringement against Escort, Inc. ("Escort") who is not a party in this case. On June 29, 2009, Escort alleged counterclaims of invalidity and unenforceability of Fleming's patents in the Idaho action. (ECF No. 151-8 at 20-21).

Fleming filed a Second Amended Complaint (ECF No. 29) and on July 29, 2009, Fleming filed his Third Amended Complaint ("TAC"), which is the operative pleading in this case. (ECF No. 84). The TAC alleges breach of contract for the sale of Fleming's patents.

On August 12, 2009, Coverstone filed his Answer and Counterclaim to Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 86).

On June 25, 2010, the parties appeared before the Court for a pretrial conference and the Court set a trial date of January 25, 2011. (ECF No. 138).

On October 14, 2010, Coverstone filed a Motion to Stay Trial. (ECF No. 150). On November 1, 2010, Fleming filed an Opposition to Coverstone's Motion to Stay Trial. (ECF No. 151). On November 8, 2010, Coverstone filed a Reply.

II. Contentions

Coverstone moves this Court to "stay and/or continue the trial in this matter for four months to allow the Idaho court to reach its determination on validity and enforceability [of the patents] prior to trying this case." (ECF No. 150-1 at 2). Coverstone further "requests that in issuing its order, this court set a status conference for May 31, 2011, to revisit the issue and make a determination as to whether a further stay is necessary or whether this case is ready to proceed to trial." Id. at 7-8.

Coverstone contends that the issues of invalidity and unenforceability of the patents in this case will be "fully adjudicated" in the Idaho case because the defendant in that case has a filing deadline of February 28, 2011 for a motion for summary judgment and the Idaho court stated in its scheduling order that it would "'make every effort'" to issue a ruling by May 29, 2011. Id. at 3 (quoting Fleming v. Escort, Inc. et al., Case No. 09-cv-105-S-BLW, (D. Idaho Aug. 2, 2010) (case management order)). Coverstone contends that a judicial determination that the patents are invalid or unenforceable in the Idaho case, will provide him a complete defense to the breach of contract claim in this case due to failure of consideration. Coverstone also contends that resolution of the invalidity issue in the Idaho case will simplify the issue of damages in this case and prevent double recovery.

Fleming contends that the Motion is untimely and is an improper attempt to avoid trial. Fleming contends that "Coverstone's motion (patent invalidity) seeks to raise an issue that: (1) Coverstone never pled by way of an affirmative defense or counterclaim; (2) the parties never addressed during discovery or expert reports; and (3) forms no part of any ...


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