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Patriot Rail Corp v. Sierra Railroad Company


April 17, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge


On the Court's own motion, the Court makes the following Orders.


The May 17, 2012 Final Pretrial Conference is vacated and continued to December 13, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. in Courtroom 7. At least one of the attorneys who will conduct the trial for each of the parties shall attend the Final Pretrial Conference. If by reason of illness or other unavoidable circumstance a trial attorney is unable to attend, the attorney who attends in place of the trial attorney shall have equal familiarity with the case and equal authorization to make commitments on behalf of the client.

Counsel for all parties are to be fully prepared for trial at the time of the Final Pretrial Conference, with no matters remaining to be accomplished except production of witnesses for oral testimony.

The parties shall file, not later than November 15, 2012, a Joint Final Pretrial Conference Statement. The provisions of Local Rules 281 shall apply with respect to the matters to be included in the Joint Final Pretrial Conference Statement. In addition to those subjects listed in Local Rule 281(b), the parties are to provide the Court with a plain, concise statement that identifies every non-discovery motion tendered to the Court and its resolution. Failure to comply with Local Rule 281, as modified by this Pretrial Scheduling Order, may be grounds for sanctions.

At the time of filing the Joint Final Pretrial Conference Statement, counsel shall also electronically mail to the Court in digital format compatible with Microsoft Word or WordPerfect, the Joint Final Pretrial Conference Statement in its entirety including the witness and exhibit lists. These documents shall be sent to:

The parties should identify first the core undisputed facts relevant to all claims. The parties should then, in a concise manner, identify those undisputed core facts that are relevant to each claim. The disputed facts should be identified in the same manner. Where the parties are unable to agree as to what disputed facts are properly before the Court for trial, they should nevertheless list all disputed facts asserted by each party.

Each disputed fact or undisputed fact should be separately numbered or lettered.

Each party shall identify and concisely list each disputed evidentiary issue which will be the subject of a motion in limine.

Each party shall identify the points of law which concisely describe the legal issues of the trial which will be discussed in the parties' respective trial briefs. Points of law should reflect issues derived from the core undisputed and disputed facts. Parties shall not include argument or authorities with any point of law.

The parties shall prepare a joint statement of the case in plain concise language which will be read to the jury at the beginning of the trial. The purpose of the joint statement is to inform the jury what the case is about.

The parties are reminded that pursuant to Local Rule 281 they are required to list in the Joint Final Pretrial Conference Statement all witnesses and exhibits they propose to offer at trial. After the name of each witness, each party shall provide a brief statement of the nature of the testimony to be proffered. The parties may file a joint list or each party may file separate lists. These list(s) shall not be contained in the body of the Joint Final Pretrial Conference Statement itself, but shall be attached as separate documents to be used as addenda to the Final Pretrial Order.

Plaintiff's exhibits shall be listed numerically. Defendant's exhibits shall be listed alphabetically. The parties shall use the standard exhibit stickers provided by the Court Clerk's Office: pink for plaintiff and blue for defendant. In the event that the alphabet is exhausted, the exhibits shall be marked "AA-ZZ" and "AAA-ZZZ" etc. After three letters, note the number of letters in parenthesis (i.e., "AAAA(4)") to reduce confusion at trial. All multi-page exhibits shall be stapled or otherwise fastened together and each page within the exhibit shall be numbered. All photographs shall be marked individually. The list of exhibits shall not include excerpts of depositions, which may be used to impeach witnesses. In the event that Plaintiff and Defendant offer the same exhibit during trial, that exhibit shall be referred to by the designation the exhibit is first identified. The Court cautions the parties to pay attention to this detail so that all concerned, including the jury, will not be confused by one exhibit being identified with both a number and a letter.

The Final Pretrial Order will contain a stringent standard for the offering at trial of witnesses and exhibits not listed in the Final Pretrial Order, and the parties are cautioned that the standard will be strictly applied. On the other hand, the listing of exhibits or witnesses that a party does not intend to offer will be viewed as an abuse of the court's processes.

The parties also are reminded that pursuant to Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure it will be their duty at the Final Pretrial Conference to aid the Court in: (a) the formulation and simplification of issues and the elimination of frivolous claims or defenses; (b) the settling of facts that should properly be admitted; and (c) the avoidance of unnecessary proof and cumulative evidence. Counsel must cooperatively prepare the Joint Final Pretrial Conference Statement and participate in good faith at the Final Pretrial Conference with these aims in mind. A failure to do so may result in the imposition of sanctions which may include monetary sanctions, orders precluding proof, elimination of claims or defenses, or such other sanctions as the Court deems appropriate.


The parties shall file trial briefs not later than November 28, 2012. Counsel are directed to Local Rule 285 regarding the content of trial briefs.


Any evidentiary or procedural motions are to be filed by November 21, 2012. Oppositions must be filed by November 28, 2012 and any reply must be filed by December 5, 2012. The motions will be heard by the Court at the same time as the Final Pretrial Conference.


The July 16, 2012 jury trial is vacated and continued to February 25, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom 7. Trial will be by jury. The panel will consist of eight (8) jurors. The parties estimate a trial length of fifteen (15) days.


At the Final Pretrial Conference, the Court may set a settlement conference if the parties so request. In the event no settlement conference is requested, the parties are free to continue to mediate or attempt to settle the case with the understanding that the trial date is a firm date.

In the event a settlement conference is set by the Court, counsel are instructed to have a principal with full settlement authority present at the Settlement Conference or to be fully authorized to settle the matter on any terms. At least seven (7) calendar days before the settlement conference, counsel for each party shall submit to the chambers of the settlement judge a confidential Settlement Conference Statement. Such statements are neither to be filed with the Clerk nor served on opposing counsel. Each party, however, shall serve notice on all other parties that the statement has been submitted. If the settlement judge is not the trial judge, the Settlement Conference Statement shall not be disclosed to the trial judge.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the parties may request a settlement conference prior to the Final Pretrial Conference if they feel it would lead to the possible resolution of the case. In the event an early settlement conference date is requested, the parties shall file said request jointly, in writing.

The request must state whether the parties waive disqualification, pursuant to Local Rule 270(b), before a settlement judge can be assigned to the case.

Absent the parties' affirmatively requesting that the assigned Judge or Magistrate Judge participate in the settlement conference AND waiver, pursuant to Local Rule 270(b), a settlement judge will be randomly assigned to the case.


Pursuant to this Order, the Plaintiff's Motion to Continue Trial (ECF No. 219) is denied as moot. Accordingly, the April 19, 2012 motion hearing is vacated.



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