Magistrate Judge Fallon Denies Request to Re-Assign Case

April 3, 2018

Publication| Intellectual Property

In Kelly Services, Inc. v. Kelly & Associates Financial Services, Inc., No. 16-408-JFB-SRF (D. Del. Feb. 26, 2018), a trademark case, Magistrate Judge Fallon denied the plaintiffs’ unopposed request to re-assign the case to another judge. The basis for the plaintiffs’ request was that Judge Fallon had conducted a mediation with the parties in which “substantive” matters had been disclosed. After the mediation, which took place in May of 2017, the case had been re-assigned for purposes of alternative dispute resolution from Judge Fallon to Chief Magistrate Judge Thynge.

Judge Fallon remained responsible for all dispositive and non-dispositive matters in the litigation, to the extent permissible under Fed. R. Civ. P. 72 and 28 U.S.C. § 636, with the exception of summary judgment, Daubert, motions in limine, and trial. The Court stated that it was not aware of any rule preventing the same magistrate judge from handling both alternative dispute resolution and ordinary case proceedings. Judge Fallon further stated that it would be “erroneous” to assume that what may have been learned during mediation would affect the merits determination of issues in the litigation before her.

Key Point: Magistrate Judge Fallon emphasized that she handles numerous mediations and alternative dispute resolution proceedings throughout the year, which makes it unlikely that she would remember the details of any given mediation if later presented with motions in the same case.

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