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Arlington Industries, Inc v. Bridgeport Fittings

July 11, 2011

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: (Judge Conner)

(CONSOLIDATED)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the court is a motion for relief from judgment (Doc. 829) filed by Arlington Industries, Inc. ("Arlington") requesting that the court vacate its final judgment of non-infringement of United States Patent Number 5,266,050 ("the '050 patent") by Bridgeport Fittings, Inc.'s ("Bridgeport") Whipper-Snap Duplex products, catalog numbers 3838SP and 3838ASPF ("the Duplex Connectors") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5). Bridgeport opposes the motion, asserting that there is no reason to alter a final judgment that is currently on appeal before the Federal Circuit. For the reasons that follow, the court will issue an indicative ruling under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 62.1 that it would grant Arlington's motion for relief from judgment if the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit were to remand the final judgment for that limited purposes.

I. Background*fn1

Arlington's claim of patent infringement of the '050 patent by Bridgeport's Duplex Connectors was originally asserted in parallel litigation before the Honorable A. Richard Caputo. See Arlington v. Bridgeport, Civ. A. No. 3:06-CV-1105 (M.D. Pa.) ("Arlington II").*fn2 The Duplex Connectors became a part of the above-captioned matter due to an interrogatory response by Bridgeport during the discovery phase of this litigation. Unbeknownst to this court that the Duplex Connectors were subject to litigation in two cases, this matter and Arlington II proceeded on parallel tracks with different claim constructions of the '050 patent. The parties filed motions for summary judgment in each case. (Docs. 382, 385; Arlington II, Docs. 110, 112, 113). On September 18, 2008, Judge Caputo granted Bridgeport's motions for summary judgment in Arlington II, concluding that Arlington could not prove infringement of the '050 patent by Bridgeport's Duplex Connectors. (Arlington II, Doc. 307). However, on February 4, 2009, this court denied the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment on the issue of infringement and set trial for September 2009. (See Docs. 471, 474). Shortly before trial, Bridgeport moved to stay the above-captioned matter asserting preclusion arguments due to the final judgment of non-infringement of the Duplex Connectors in Arlington II.*fn3 (See Doc. 561). The court denied the motion, but excised the Duplex Connectors from trial. (Doc. 584; Doc. 773, at 7 n.3).

Post trial, the court granted judgment of non-infringement as a matter of law to Bridgeport on the Duplex Connectors. (Doc. 774, at 7, 14). The court explained that "[b]ecause the duplex connectors are identical products to those adjudged non-infringing by Judge Caputo, the requirements of claim preclusion are met." (Id. at 7). The court entered an amended final judgment on April 28, 2010. (Doc. 799). The parties pursued appeals to the Federal Circuit in both the instant matter and Arlington II. The Federal Circuit stayed the appeal in the above-captioned matter at the parties' request pending the Circuit's opinion in Arlington II. On January 20, 2011, the Federal Circuit issued its opinion vacating the grant of summary judgment of non-infringement of the '050 patent by the Duplex Connectors in Arlington II due to an erroneous claim construction of the '050 patent. See Arlington Indus., Inc. v. Bridgeport Fittings, Inc., 632 F.3d 1246 (Fed. Cir. 2011). The mandate issued on April 21, 2011. (Arlington II, Doc. 365). The Federal Circuit then lifted the stay of appeal of the above-captioned matter on May 17, 2011, and Bridgeport filed its principal brief on June 27, 2011. Arlington Indus., Inc. v. Bridgeport Fittings, Inc., No. 2010-1377 (Fed. Cir.).

On May 4, 2011, Arlington filed the present motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5) asserting that the court should vacate its judgment of non-infringement of the '050 patent in the above-captioned matter with respect to the Duplex Connectors. (Doc. 829). Arlington contends that the judgment of non-infringement was based solely on this court's finding that Judge Caputo's entry of judgment in Bridgeport's favor in Arlington II had preclusive effect. Now that the Federal Circuit has vacated judgment in Arlington II, and with it removed any preclusive effect of that judgment, Arlington argues that relief from this court's judgment of non-infringement on the Duplex Connectors is warranted. Arlington asserts that pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 62.1, the court may consider its motion, despite the fact that the matter is pending on appeal before the Federal Circuit, and issue an indicative ruling that it would grant the motion if the Federal Circuit were to remand the case for that purpose. Bridgeport opposes the motion, contending that there is no reason to tamper with the final judgment in this case currently on appeal, the Federal Circuit will address the judgment of non-infringement of the Duplex Connectors de novo, and Bridgeport will suffer serious prejudice if the court vacates judgment on the Duplex Connectors. (Doc. 831, at 2). Bridgeport argues that vacating judgment will necessitate a trial on the Duplex Connectors, which would be a waste of judicial resources while other claim construction issues are on appeal. (Id. at 3). The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

II. Discussion

A. The Court's Jurisdiction

An appeal of the above-captioned matter is currently pending before the Federal Circuit. Therefore, this court does not possess jurisdiction over the present motion for relief from judgment, except to the extent that Rule 62.1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits. Rule 62.1 is a rather recent addition to the Federal Rules. It allows the district court to issue an indicative ruling on a motion for relief from judgment when ruling on such a motion is barred by a pending appeal. See FED. R. CIV. P. 62.1. Pursuant to the rule,

(a) If a timely motion is made for relief that the court lacks authority to grant because of an appeal that has been docketed and is pending, the court may:

(1) defer considering the motion;

(2) deny the motion; or

(3) state either that it would grant the motion if the court of appeals remands for that purpose or that the ...


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