Monday, July 13, 2020

Motion To Bifurcate Trial Denied in Federal Middle District Court

In the case of Cleveland Brothers Equipment Co., Inc. v. Vorobey, No. 4:19-CV-01708 (M.D. Pa. June 23, 2020 Brann, J.) (Mem. Op.), Judge Matthew W. Brann denied a Plaintiff’s Motion to Bifurcate a trucking accident litigation with respect to the issues of liability and damages.

This matter actually involves a contribution action filed by the Plaintiff trucking company against Co-Defendants after the underlying personal injury cases were resolved.  The trucking company was a defendant in the underlying matter, which was settled, and then began this contribution action against a co-defendant.

In addressing the Motion to Bifurcate, Judge Brann noted that, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(b), a federal district court is permitted to order the bifurcation of trials for convenience, to avoid prejudice, or in the interests of judicial economy. 

Applying his broad discretion, Judge Brann denied the Motion to Bifurcate after finding that judicial economy would be served by keeping the cases together. 

In so ruling, Judge Brann noted that the Third Circuit has held that “separation of issues for trial is not to be routinely ordered.” See Op. at 2. 

Also, as a side note with respect to this decision is that the court used footnotes for all of its case citations as well as for some commentary. Here is to hoping that this does not become the norm in terms of Opinions as it is tedious to go from the body of the Opinion to look down at the citation and come back up to continue to reading the Opinion. I realize that others may prefer the perhaps more fluid reading of an Opinion when the case citations are instead put in footnotes.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

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