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In Re: Arthur Baldwin; Linda Cobb; Jerome

November 26, 2012

IN RE: ARTHUR BALDWIN; LINDA COBB; JEROME BULLOCK; ANGELA FORD; JOANNE ANDIORIO; J.W. WALLACE; TWYLA JOHNSON; NICOLE GAINES; WILLIAM THOMPKINS; ROY PENNER; MELODY CAUSEY; JAMES SHEALEY; LEONARD R. DUNCAN; RENEE FRAZIER; CLAUDIA ALLEN; EUGENE DOWING; GEORGE CALLOWAY; B.J. LEBER; REVERAND RONALD PETERS, PETITIONERS


On a Petition for a Writ of Mandamus from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Related to D.C. Civil No. 2-10-cv-00800)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Vanaskie, Circuit Judge.

PRECEDENTIAL

Argued May 31, 2012

Before: AMBRO, JORDAN, and VANASKIE, Circuit Judges

OPINION

Concerned about the consequences of a District Court order setting a 7.5 hour per side limit on the parties' presentation of evidence at trial, the sixteen named defendants in this litigation (the "Lemington Defendants") seek a writ of mandamus to vacate the time- limit order.*fn2 Because we believe that a direct appeal presents an adequate means for the Lemington Defendants to challenge the District Court's order, we will deny the petition for a writ of mandamus.

I.

The Lemington Home for the Aged (the "Home") is a non-profit nursing care facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Beginning in the 1980's, the Home faced a series of escalating financial difficulties, eventually culminating in the Home ceasing to admit new patients and filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in 2005. The Bankruptcy Court appointed a Committee of Unsecured Creditors (the "Committee"), approved closure of the Home, and authorized the Committee to commence adversary proceedings against the Home's officers and directors in the District Court.

On August 27, 2007, the Committee filed its second amended complaint on behalf of the debtor, asserting causes of action against the Lemington Defendants--former officers and directors of the Home--for breach of their fiduciary duties of care and loyalty and for deepening insolvency. The District Court granted summary judgment to the Lemington Defendants, holding that the business judgment rule and the doctrine of in pari delicto precluded the Committee's breach of fiduciary duty claims, and that the Committee failed to show fraud sufficient to support a deepening insolvency claim. We vacated the District Court's grant of summary judgment and remanded for trial. See Official Comm. of Unsecured Creditors ex rel. Estate of Lemington Home for the Aged v. Baldwin (In re Lemington Home for the Aged), 659 F.3d 282, 285 (3d Cir. 2011).

Following remand, the District Court issued an order on October 31, 2011, scheduling jury selection and trial for December 5, 2011. The District Court also scheduled a preliminary pre-trial conference for November 22, 2011 and a final pretrial conference for December 1, 2011.

Before the November 22, 2011 preliminary pretrial conference, the parties stipulated to fourteen facts and identified approximately 400 proposed exhibits. The parties also submitted proposed witness lists. The Committee stated that it intended to call up to fifty-one witnesses, and the Lemington Defendants stated that they intended to call up to thirty-four witnesses. The Lemington Defendants' witness list included twenty definite witnesses and fourteen standby witnesses. Of the definite witnesses, five were expert witnesses and fifteen were fact witnesses. The Lemington Defendants' descriptions of many of their witnesses' intended testimony were similar. For example, the Lemington

Defendants indicated that six of their definite director witnesses intended to testify as to their responsibilities to the Home and the reasons for the decision to cease admitting new residents to the Home and to file for bankruptcy in 2005.

On November 22, 2011, the District Court held a preliminary pretrial conference, during which it expressed frustration with what it viewed as the parties' failure to "streamline [the] case." (Lemington Defendants' Pet. at 31.)

In particular, the District Court noted that "[t]he duplication of witnesses [was] overwhelming," and that the parties appeared "unwilling[] to stipulate to the most basic facts." (Id.) Explaining that it would not allow the parties to force the "jury [to] sit through endless repetitive testimony," the District Court limited each side's witness testimony to 7.5 hours and limited the parties' opening and closing statements to half an ...


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