United States District Court, D. Delaware
HONORABLE LEONARD P. STARK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Wilmington this 9th day of October,
reviewed the proposed final pretrial order ("PTO")
(D.I. 347) filed by Plaintiff Monolithic Power Systems, Inc.
("MPS" or "Plaintiff) and Defendant Renesas
Electronics America, Inc. ("Renensas,"
"Intersil," or "Defendant"), IT IS HEREBY
MPS's motion in limine ("MIL") No. 1,
to preclude Defendant from using certain language to describe
the nature of a failure in two Supermicro motherboards, is
GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN
PART. The terms "burning,"
"charring," "melting," and
"overheating" (and their related adjective forms,
i.e., burnt, charred, melted, ignited) have probative value
that outweighs the risks identified in Federal Rule of
Evidence 403 ("Rule 403") because they have an
evidentiary basis in the record (e.g., testimony by witnesses
from each side) and a reasonable juror could find they
accurately characterize damage that occurred to server
motherboards. Terms such as "blowing up,"
"blown up," "igniting," and
"exploding or explosion," and characterizations of
the product failure as presenting a "public safety
issue" (or like terms) shall not be used at trial.
Although these terms and characterizations do appear in the
record, they were not used to describe the actual impact of
the product failure (which was essentially microscopic heat
damage to components of larger products and was not the type
of fiery explosion connoted by "blown up").
Defendant admits that "[m]icrosopic analysis is required
to see any part of the product" (PTO Ex. 6 at
1), yet something quite different is incorrectly implied by
some of the terms Defendant seeks to use. The terms the Court
is not permitting lack probative value and raise a very
substantial risk of unfairly prejudicing MPS by rnisleadingly
suggesting to jurors that "the products could cause
physical injury to actual human users." (PTO Ex. 5 at 3)
Intersil's MIL No. 1, to exclude evidence of Plaintiff s
alternate damages theories involving the Microsoft Celestial
Peak and Ice Lake contracts, is GRANTED.
Plaintiff only made known to Defendant that these contracts
were a basis for its claims - indeed, an overwhelmingly
substantial basis, increasing the damages sought relating to
Microsoft Cloud Computing by at least 5x, and potentially 60x
(see PTO Ex. 8 at 1; PTO Ex. 9 at 2) - with service
of the September 3, 2019 Third Supplemental Expert Report.
This was not a timely disclosure, and nothing about the
Court's July 30, 2019 Order makes it timely. Defendant
would be severely prejudiced by having to confront this new,
surprising damages request at trial without having had any
opportunity (or any reason) to take discovery on it.
(See PTO Ex. 8 at 2) (Intersil persuasively arguing
"it obviously did not foresee that MPS would attempt to
introduce new damage claims based on contracts that were
awarded years after the events of this case") Nor could
the Court cure this prejudice without disrupting trial,
scheduled to begin on October 21. Application of the
Pennypack factors strongly favors excluding this
late-produced evidence. See Meyers v. Pennypack Woods
Home Ownership Ass 'n,, 559 F.2d 894, 904-05 (3d
Intersil's MIL No. 2, to limit testimony from Plaintiffs
employees Qian Li and Jinghai Zhou to subject matter
disclosed in Plaintiffs discovery responses, is
DENIED. Mr. Li and Mr. Zhou
may testify at trial pursuant to Fed.R.Evid. 701, which
permits lay testimony that is (1) rationally based on the
witness's perception; (2) helpful to clearly
understanding the witness's testimony or to determining a
fact in issue; and (3) not based on scientific, technical, or
specialized knowledge within the scope of Rule 702. Defendant
has failed to persuade the Court that they did not have the
opportunity to depose Mr. Li or Mr. Zhou during discovery.
Should Defendant believe that improper testimony is being
offered at trial inconsistent with the Court's ruling, it
may object to specific questions.
Intersil's MIL No. 3, to preclude trial testimony from
Plaintiffs witnesses regarding causation, is
DENIED. A party may prove causation through
circumstantial evidence, including fact-based lay opinions as
to what would have occurred but-for a defendant's
allegedly tortious conduct. See generally Ghee v. Marten
Transp., Ltd., 570 Fed.Appx. 228, 231 (3d Cir. 2014)
("Where, as here, a lay witness's opinion testimony
'is based on sufficient experience or specialized
knowledge' and 'a sufficient connection' exists
between 'such knowledge and experience and the lay
opinion,' that opinion should be admitted because it
'may be fairly considered to be 'rationally based on
the perception of the witness' and truly
'helpful' to the jury.'"). Plaintiffs
witnesses may testify to their personal knowledge of the
circumstances and their lay opinions based on their personal
experiences. See Fed. R. Evid. 701. Should Defendant
believe that improper testimony is being offered at trial
inconsistent with the Court's ruling, it may object to
respect to other disputed issues identified in the PTO:
1. Defendant may be referred to at trial as
"Intersil" or "Renesas." Documents and
testimony have referred to Defendant as both. It would be
confusing to the jury, and unfairly challenging for the
parties, to have to refer to Defendant throughout solely as
2. There is no need to define "Vcore" in the PTO.
At trial, the parties may refer to "Vcore products"
and "POL products" and may, through an appropriate
witness, present evidence as to each. The parties may also
propose definitions of these terms to be included in the
preliminary jury instructions, should any party wish the
Court to explain these terms at the start of trial.
3. There is nothing for the Court to decide with respect to
Dispute No. 3.
4. With respect to Dispute No. 6, the Court will not strike
the "Specific Contested Facts Contended by MPS," as
the inclusion of this section provides notice to Intersil and
preserves the record.
5. With respect to Dispute No. 7, the Court agrees with
6. The parties shall be prepared to discuss at the pretrial
conference on Thursday, October 10 ("PTC") their
dispute regarding witnesses Chou, Chuang, Coffman, and