Transfer Warranted Where Second-Filed Court Would Otherwise "Substitute Judgment" of First-Filed Court
The so-called "first-filed rule" of jurisdiction provides that, subject to a variety of exceptions, the first court to receive a cause of action should resolve the litigation to the exclusion of the second. According to a recent decision by Chief Judge Gregory M. Sleet, a necessary adjunct to this principle is that the second court need not delve into matters that are peculiarly within the first tribunal's purview.
In the Every Penny Counts litigation, which IPLaw360 (subscription) has treated elsewhere, the Delaware court found that uncertainty surrounding the availability of personal jurisidiction in the initial Florida court cannot constitute a reason for filing a parallel action in Delaware. Instead, the resolution of that question rests solely with the Florida court.
The Court continued: "With the institution of a separate action in this court, [plaintiff] essentially asks this court to substitute its judgment for that of the first-filed Florida court on the scope of the Florida court's jurisdiction." As a result, the Court transferred the second-filed action to Florida.
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8/8/2007: Pollin/Miller Hospitality Strategies, Inc. v Patricia Scott, Brad Wenger and MJ Wilmington Hotel Associates (trademark/trade secret)
8/27/2007: Matika USA v. Black and Decker (Patent Infringement)
8/28/2007 : Energy Transportation Group v. Siemens Hearing Instruments and Siemens Audiologische Technik GMBH (Patent Infringement)
8/27/2007 : Symbol Technologies and Wireless Valley Communications v. Aruba Networks (Patent Infringement)
8/30/2007: Human Genome Sciences v. Amgen and Immunex (Patent Infringement)
9/5/2007: Fujinon Corp v. Motorola (Patent Infringement)
9/7/2007: Phoenix Payment Systems v. Lexcel Inc (Copyright infringement)
9/10/2007: Dover Motorsports and International Speedway v. John Doe and other persons unknown (trade secret/trademark)
9/13/2007 : Orion Corp v. Wockhardt USA (Patent Infringement)
9/13/2007 : Santarus, Inc and the Curators of the Univ or Missouri v. Par Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Patent Infringement)
Crown moved the Court to reconsider its previous decision not to bifurcate plaintiff's infringement claims from defendant's infringement claims. In support of its motion, Crown cited two not-previously-cited cases from this district where the Court had bifurcated plaintiff's and defendant's claims of infringement. The Court reminded Crown that it "should have brought those cases to the Court's attention during the briefing of its motion to bifurcate" because "it is not proper on a motion for reargument for a party to digest the court's analysis of the cases cited during briefing and then seek to find other cases (which could have been previously cited) to present to the court…" Op. at 4. The Court also noted that Crown was attempting to shift its arguments – Crown had originally argued for complete bifurcation of the plaintiff's and defendant's cases, while in its motion for reconsideration Crown argued for a two-phase trial with one jury (addressing the Court's concerns about impaneling two juries and the extra time needed for two separate trials). Op. at 5.
Takeaway: In arguing for bifurcation, it may help to make a showing that the Court can accomplish the bifurcated proceedings in the time originally allocated for the combined proceedings.