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Texas Roadhouse, Inc. v. Texas Corral Restaurants, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

June 5, 2017

TEXAS ROADHOUSE, INC., and TEXAS ROADHOUSE DELAWARE, LLC, Plaintiffs,
v.
TEXAS CORRAL RESTAURANTS, INC., TEXCOR, INC., TEXAS CORRAL RESTAURANT II, INC., T.C. OF MICHIGAN CITY, INC., T.C. OF KALAMAZOO, INC., CHICAGO ROADHOUSE CONCEPTS, LLC, T.C. OF OAK LAWN, INC., T.C. OF HARWOOD HEIGHTS, INC., TEXAS CORRAL INCORPORATED., MARTINSVILLE CORRAL, INC., and PAUL SWITZER, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         The Texas Roadhouse Plaintiffs claim the Texas Corral Defendants copied them. Defendants move under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(b) to bifurcate liability from damages for discovery and trial. (DE 121.)

         A. Law

         Rule 42(b) allows, but does not require, trial courts to bifurcate in certain circumstances:

For convenience, to avoid prejudice, or to expedite and economize, the court may order a separate trial of one or more separate issues, claims, crossclaims, counterclaims, or third-party claims. When ordering a separate trial, the court must preserve any federal right to a jury trial.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 42(b).

         The moving party has the burden to show bifurcation is proper. See Toney v. Accor N. Am., 2010 WL 2162626, at *1 (N.D. Ind. May 27, 2010). Bifurcation is the exception, not the rule. See Real v. Bunn-O-Matic Corp., 195 F.R.D. 618, 620 (N.D. Ill. 2000). A court should order separate trials only in extenuating circumstances. See Id. at 621.

         The Seventh Circuit articulated a three-step test for determining when to bifurcate:

First, the trial judge must determine whether separate trials would avoid prejudice to a party or promote judicial economy. Only one of these criteria-avoidance of prejudice or judicial economy-need be met before a court can order separation. Next, the court must be satisfied that the decision to bifurcate does not unfairly prejudice the non-moving party. Finally, separate trials must not be granted if doing so would violate the Seventh Amendment.

Houseman v. U.S. Aviation Underwriters, 171 F.3d 1117, 1121 (7th Cir. 1999) (internal citations omitted).

         Trial courts should “balance considerations of convenience, economy, expedition, and prejudice, depending on the peculiar facts and circumstances of each case.” Houskins v. Sheahan, 549 F.3d 480, 495 (7th Cir. 2008). The decision of whether to bifurcate rests with the discretion of the trial court. Krocka v. City of Chi., 203 F.3d 507, 516 (7th Cir. 2000).

         B. Analysis

         (1) Step One: Would bifurcation avoid prejudice to the Texas Corral Defendants, or promote judicial economy?

         (a) Prejudice to the ...


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