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  • Writer's pictureShelly Albaum

CA Trial Delay Due To COVID-19

The parties yesterday filed a joint stipulation in California requesting that the May 12 trial be delayed due to logistical problems created by the coronavirus pandemic. You can read the stipulation here:

In addition, the parties revealed to Judge Carney that the March 17th mediation had been adjourned due to coronavirus (a participant was feeling unwell), and was being rescheduled.

Judge Carney presumably will approve the stipulation, though there is a big part of me that would like to see him order the parties to stick to the schedule and just work it out. When we ever get another trial date in California remains to be seen. The mediation will no doubt be rescheduled soon, but we might not find out about it if it does.

Here are some highlights from the joint stipulation:

1. The parties had scheduled a private mediation for March 17, 2020, before the Hon. Daniel Weinstein (Ret.) in an attempt to resolve this action. Unfortunately, counsel learned on the evening of March 16 that one of the participants in the mediation was feeling unwell and, in an abundance of caution given the current COVID-19 outbreak, adjourned the mediation. The parties are in the process of rescheduling the mediation for the next possible date.

2. The parties have invested significant time and expense in preparing for the mediation before Judge Weinstein. It was specifically scheduled to take place before pretrial filings were due, in the hope that the mediation would obviate the need for further litigation and conserve precious judicial resources. Unfortunately, for the reasons discussed above, the mediation has been adjourned and is in the process of being rescheduled for the next possible date, with the hope that the parties may participate via video technology.

3. Additionally, the restrictions instituted in recent weeks due to COVID-19 have significantly curtailed the parties’ ability to prepare for and attend a trial beginning May 12, 2020. Defendants and their lead trial counsel are all located in New York City, where increasingly restrictive social distancing measures have significantly complicated trial prep efforts. Defendants are also concerned that neither they nor their trial counsel will be able to travel to California for the pretrial conference scheduled for April 20, 2020 or the trial itself as currently scheduled, given current predictions as to the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. And the parties understand, of course, that the situation is severe in California as well, with restrictions on movement and the likely closure of schools for the rest of the year.

4. In light of these developments and the other complications discussed above, the parties stipulate to, and respectfully and jointly request that the Court issue, an order:

a. adjourning the existing pretrial deadlines (including the upcoming March 23, 2020 deadline for the filing of motions in limine pursuant to Local Rule 6-1) and the May 12, 2020 trial date; and

b. setting a telephonic status conference to take place in the next 30 to 45 days.

5. The parties are cognizant that trial time in the Central District is very limited, but we believe that we have little choice but to make this request under the present circumstances.

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