United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division
LISA GODBEY WOOD, Chief District Judge.
This Court's March 31, 2015 omnibus Order (Dkt. no. 371) denied Defendants' dispositive motions as to most of the claims Plaintiff asserted in its Complaint. In due course, Defendants filed a Motion for Certification Permitting Interlocutory Appeal and for Stay Pending Trial (Dkt. no. 372) on April 15, 2015. Defendants subsequently filed a Motion to Stay the Matter (Dkt. no. 374) pending a ruling in a related insurance coverage matter out of the District of Minnesota. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Motion for Certification Permitting Interlocutory Appeal (Dkt. no. 372) is DENIED, and Defendants' Motion to Stay the Matter (Dkt. no. 374) is GRANTED.
I. Defendants' Motion for Certification Permitting Interlocutory appeal and for Stay Pending Trial (Dkt. no. 372)
Defendants present three objections to legal conclusions this Court makes in its March 31 Order which they would like to bring before the Court of Appeals before this case proceeds to trial pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b).
a. Legal Standard
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b), a district judge may issue an order stating that a question of law discussed in a civil order may be appropriate for an immediate appeal, even when the matter is not otherwise appealable at that time. See 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). At its discretion, the Court of Appeals may then accept the immediate appeal of that question of law. See id.
To certify interlocutory appeal of an order, the district court must find that three requirements are satisfied: (1) the appeal would involve a "controlling question of law, " (2) there is a "substantial ground for difference of opinion" on this controlling question, and (3) an immediate appeal on the order "may materially advance the ultimate termination of litigation." See id. Materially advancing the termination of the litigation "means that a controlling legal question would serve to avoid a trial or otherwise substantially shorten the litigation." McFarlin v. Conseco Servs., LLC, 381 F.3d 1251, 1259 (11th Cir. 2004)
The burden of persuading the district court (and, ultimately, the Court of Appeals) that interlocutory appeal is appropriate rests on the petitioning party. See McFarlin, 381 F.3d at 1264. "Section 1292 is intended to be used sparingly and only in exceptional cases where a speedy appeal would avoid protracted litigation." United States ex rel Powell v. Am. InterContinental Univ., Inc., 756 F.Supp.2d 1374, 1378 (N.D.Ga. 2010).
b. Defendants' Three "Controlling Questions of Law"
Defendants have presented three questions of law which they argue are appropriate for interlocutory appeal:
1. Whether, under the Georgia Trade Secrets Act, O.C.G.A. § 10-1-760, et seq. ("GTSA"), ownership of an alleged trade secret is required to confer upon the plaintiff standing to sue for misappropriation of that trade secret or whether mere possession (including, but not necessarily limited to, knowledge) of the alleged trade secret is sufficient, an unsettled question under Georgia Law.
2. Whether, under Georgia Law, a plaintiff asserting a claim for misappropriation of a trade secret in the face of a defense of legal reverse engineering demonstrates an issue of material fact fit to be tried where the plaintiff demonstrates "any misappropriation, " or if Georgia law requires that the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant used a substantial portion of the plaintiff's trade secret to create an improvement or modification that is "substantially derived" from the plaintiff's trade secret.
3. Whether the GTSA's provision that it supersedes "conflicting tort, restitutionary, and other laws of this state providing civil remedies for misappropriation of a trade secret" preempts Plaintiff's tort and restitutionary claims to the extent that those claims are based upon Defendants' alleged misappropriation of Plaintiff's trade secrets, even where those portions ...