Eastern District of Texas Orders Severance of Multi-Defendant Action Sua Sponte to Avoid One "Massive" and "Unmanageable" Trial
In a patent infringement action brought by Alexsam, Inc. ("Alexsam") against thirteen separate defendants, grouped into seven issuers of electronic gift cards, the Eastern District of Texas decided to sever the defendants as the case got closer to trial. As explained by the court, "[t]his is the sixth lawsuit that Alexsam has pursued in the Eastern District of Texas alleging infringement of the patents-in-suit, U.S. Patent Nos. 6,000,608 ("the '608 patent") and 6,189,787 ("the '787 patent"), which relate to stored value/debit cards. The final pretrial conference is currently scheduled March 4, 2013, with a single trial to begin no more than four weeks later. Given the unique issues that exist within the defendant/defendant groups and the complexities involved in attempting to try this case in one trial in less than two months, the Court must sever the seven groups of defendants into their own separate cause of action."