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Arlington Industries, Inc. v. Bridgeport Fittings

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


September 11, 2009

ARLINGTON INDUSTRIES, INC., PLAINTIFF
v.
BRIDGEPORT FITTINGS, INC., DEFENDANT
BRIDGEPORT FITTINGS, INC., CONSOLIDATED PLAINTIFF V. : ARLINGTON INDUSTRIES, INC., CONSOLIDATED DEFENDANT

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Christopher C. Conner United States District Judge

(Judge Conner)

ORDER

AND NOW, this 11th day of September, 2009, upon consideration of Bridgeport Fittings' ("Bridgeport") motion in limine*fn1 (Doc. 478 ¶ 8) to preclude Arlington Industries ("Arlington") from introducing evidence of, or making any reference to, any prior disputes, litigation, or allegations involving the parties to the action, wherein Bridgeport specifically seeks to bar Arlington from presenting testimony regarding (1) the 2002 judgment holding Bridgeport liable for infringing United States Patent 5,736,674 (the "Box Extender Action"), and the permanent injunction resulting therefrom, (2) the 2004 settlement agreement, consent judgment, and permanent injunction entered in the above-captioned matter (hereinafter referred to as the "Snap-In Action"), and (3) the 2004 litigation accusing Bridgeport of infringing United States Patent Number 6,335,488 (the "Snap-2-It Action"),*fn2 (see Doc. 482 at 1-3), and upon further consideration of the correspondence*fn3 received from the parties regarding the admissibility of the claim construction and final judgment entered in Arlington Industries, Inc. v. Bridgeport Fittings, Inc., No. 3:05-CV-2622 (M.D. Pa.) (Caputo, J.) (Arlington II), and the court concluding that evidence and testimony relating to the Box Extender Action and the Snap-2-It Action-both of which involved entirely different patents-is not relevant to the instant issues of liability or willfulness, see FED. R. EVID. 401 (explaining that relevant evidence is that which has a "tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable"), but that evidence concerning the confession of judgment and injunction in the Snap-In Action is probative to proof of willfulness and breach of contract,*fn4 and the court further concluding that evidence and testimony pertaining to the claim construction and judgment in Arlington II is not without probative value in the present action, but that its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice and confusion of the issues,*fn5 see FED. R. EVID. 403; see also Blanch v. Raymark Indus., 972 F.2d 507, 516 (3d Cir. 1992) (stating that Rule 403 often requires exclusion of "[e]vidence relating to previous litigation involving the parties"), and is likely to mislead the jury as it considers the claim construction pertinent to this suit, see Del Mar Avionics, Inc. v. Quinton Instrument Co., 836 F.2d 1320, 1324 (Fed. Cir. 1986) (holding that once final, the court's claim construction is the law of the case); Fenner Inv., Ltd. v. Microsoft Corp., ---, F.3d ---, 2009 WL 1562866, at *9 (E.D. Tex. 2009) (prohibiting party from presenting conflicting claim construction to jury when his "argument is contrary to the claim construction order and was not raised prior to or even following the claim construction hearing" (emphasis added)); Transamerica Life Ins. Co. v. Lincoln Nat'l Life Ins. Co., 597 F. Supp. 2d 897, 910 (N.D. Iowa 2009) (holding that "no party should be allowed to argue to the jury claim constructions that are contrary to the court's claim constructions or to reassert to the jury constructions that the court has already expressly or implicitly rejected"), it is hereby ORDERED that:

1. The motion in limine (Doc. 478 ¶ 8) to preclude Arlington from introducing evidence of, or making any reference to, any prior disputes, litigation, or allegations involving the parties to this action is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part as follows:

a. The motion is GRANTED insofar as it relates to the Box Extender Action, the Snap-2-It Action, and the matters identified in footnote 2 of this order. See FED. R. EVID. 402 ("Evidence which is not relevant is not admissible.").

b. The motion is DENIED in all other respects.

2. The parties shall not present any evidence or arguments concerning the claim construction and judgment entered in Arlington II. See FED. R. EVID. 403 (explaining that evidence whose "probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury" shall be excluded from trial).


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