Van Orden et al v. Healthlink, Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs motion to bifurcate trial is GRANTED. (Doc. No. 355.) The current trial setting in this case shall be limited to a trial on the question of whether Defendants are liable for the claims assert ed by Plaintiffs. If Plaintiffs prevail on any claim, then the Court shall order the parties to submit a proposed schedule fora second trial to determine the appropriate remedies and relief. re: 355 MOTION to Bifurcate Plaintiffs' Uncontested Motion to Bifurcate Trial filed by Plaintiff John R. Van Orden Signed by District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig on 12/19/14. (JWJ)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
JOHN VAN ORDEN, et al.,
KEITH SCHAEFER, et al.,
Case No. 4:09CV00971 AGF
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs’ uncontested motion (Doc. No. 355) to
bifurcate the trial by first conducting a separate trial on the question of whether Defendants
are liable for the claims asserted by Plaintiffs, and if Plaintiffs prevail, then conducting a
second trial to determine the appropriate remedies and relief, including further reports and
recommendations from appointed experts. For the reasons set for the below, the motion
shall be granted.
Plaintiffs, current and former civilly-committed residents of the Missouri Department
of Mental Health’s (“Department”) Sexual Offender Rehabilitation and Treatment Services
(“SORTS”)1 facilities, brought this putative class action asserting numerous violations of the
United States and Missouri constitutions, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act,
based on the alleged lack of adequate care and treatment provided to them. They also
Formerly, the Missouri Sexual Offender Treatment Center (“MSOTC”).
challenge the constitutionality of Missouri’s statutory scheme that provides for
reimbursement from Plaintiffs and/or their families or estates for the costs of Plaintiffs’ care
and treatment. Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief.
In support of their uncontested motion to bifurcate the trial, Plaintiffs assert that
bifurcation will serve judicial economy and promote settlement because if liability is found
in phase one, the parties may reach agreement on an appropriate remedy and avoid the need
for expensive expert discovery and recommendations regarding the scope of relief.
Alternatively, if liability is not found, there will be no need for presentation of evidence
regarding the scope of relief. Finally, Plaintiffs assert that bifurcation will not prejudice
Defendants, as Defendants do not object to Plaintiff’s motion to bifurcate.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(b) provides that the Court, “[f]or convenience, to
avoid prejudice, or to expedite and economize,” may “order a separate trial of one or more
separate issues[.]” Fed. R. Civ. P. 42(a). District courts are given “considerable latitude in
deciding the most efficient and effective method of disposing of the issues in a case, so long
as a party is not prejudiced.” Rolscreen Co. v. Pella Prods. of St. Louis, Inc., 64 F.3d 1202,
1209 (8th Cir. 1995). Factors to consider in determining whether bifurcation is appropriate
include “the separability of the issues; simplification of discovery and conservation of
resources; prejudice to the parties; and the effect of bifurcation on the potential for
settlement.” Bancorp Servs., L.L.C. v. Sun Life Assur. Co. of Canada, No. 4:00-CV-1073
(CEJ), 2006 WL 1026992, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 14, 2006) (citation omitted).
In this case, the Court finds that bifurcation is warranted because the issues of
liability and damages are separable, bifurcation may promote settlement and will likely
conserve resources, and as Defendants do not object to bifurcation, no party will be
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs’ motion to bifurcate trial is GRANTED.
(Doc. No. 355.) The current trial setting in this case shall be limited to a trial on the
question of whether Defendants are liable for the claims asserted by Plaintiffs. If Plaintiffs
prevail on any claim, then the Court shall order the parties to submit a proposed schedule for
a second trial to determine the appropriate remedies and relief.
AUDREY G. FLEISSIG
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this19th day of December, 2014.
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