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Performance Designed Products LLC. v. Plantronics, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 22, 2019

PERFORMANCE DESIGNED PRODUCTS LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
PLANTRONICS, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING REQUEST FOR PRE-ANSWER EARLY NEUTRAL EVALUATION OR TELEPHONIC STATUS CONFERENCE [ECF NO. 42]

          HONORABLE LINDA LOPEZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's Ex Parte “Request for Early Neutral Evaluation.” [ECF No. 42] and Defendant's Response [ECF No. 44]. Plaintiff requests that the Court schedule a pre-Answer Early Neutral Evaluation (“ENE”) in this case. ECF No. 42 at 2. Additionally, Plaintiff requests that the Parties' CEOs be compelled to attend the ENE. Id.

         In their Response, Defendants assert that: (1) “the circumstances of this case do not justify deviating from an ENE scheduled in the ordinary course” and; (2) Plaintiff's request that Defendants' CEO participate “is []untethered from the Local Rules and this Court's Civil Chamber Rules.” ECF No. 44 at 2.

         RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         This case arises from a trademark infringement dispute. On July 15, 2019, the Court: (1) granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint; and (2) denied Plaintiff's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction. See ECF No. 39. Additionally, the Court set the deadline for Plaintiff to file a Second Amended Complaint and a renewed motion for a preliminary injunction to July 19, 2019 . Id. at 15.

         On July 19, 2019, the day of the Court's deadline, Plaintiff filed: (1) a Second Amended Complaint [ECF No. 43]; (2) a motion requesting that the Court modify the deadline for filing its renewed motion until after an ENE in this case has been held [ECF No. 40]; and (3) a request for a pre-Answer ENE [ECF No. 42].

         On July 22, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiff's request to continue the deadline for filing Plaintiff's renewed motion for a preliminary injunction. See ECF No. 45.

         ANALYSIS

         Local Rule 16.1.c.1 provides that “[w]ithin forty-five (45) days of the filing of an answer, counsel and the parties must appear before the assigned judicial officer supervising discovery for an early neutral evaluation conference[.]” Local Rule 16.1.c.1 also provides that “[a]t any time after filing of a complaint and before an answer has been filed” counsel for any party may make a request for an ENE.

         In this case, Plaintiff provides no explanation for why a pre-Answer ENE in this case would be productive beyond a single, conclusory sentence that Plaintiff “has reason” to believe such an ENE “would assist in the reduction of expense and delay in this action.” Id. at 2. Specifically, Plaintiff does not state why an ENE would be productive before Defendants have had the opportunity to respond to Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. The Court is further mindful Defendants have opposed Plaintiff's request.

         Plaintiff similarly fails to justify its request to compel the attendance of the Parties' CEOs at the ENE. As Defendants correctly note, the Local Rules of this Court and the undersigned Magistrate Judge's Civil Chamber Rules require the in-person participation of a party representative with the requisite authority to negotiate and enter into settlement at the ENE. See Local Rule 16.1.c.1.; Magistrate Judge Linda Lopez Civil Chamber Rules Section II.B. The Local Rules and the Civil Chamber Rules do not strictly require the participation of the Parties' CEOs.[1]

         For the reasons stated above, the Court finds it inappropriate to convene a pre-Answer ENE at this time. Plaintiffs request to set an early in-person ENE with the CEOs of all Parties in attendance is DENIED.

         Plaintiff alternatively requests an attorneys-only telephonic status conference be set “to discuss matters that Defense counsel has requested Plaintiffs counsel keep confidential” ECF No. 42 at 2. As written, the Court is unable to determine whether such a status conference would be ...


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