The Court of Chancery in LightLab Imaging, Inc. v. Axsun Technologies, Inc. and Volcano Corp., C.A. No. 6517-CS (May 10, 2012) granted the defendants’ motion to stay the Delaware action until the facts ripened finding that there was no prejudice to the plaintiff and that there was substantial overlap between this Delaware action and an action filed in Massachusetts (currently on appeal).
LightLab Imaging, Inc. filed an action against the defendants relating to a technology dispute. In connection with a separate but substantially related action filed in Massachusetts, LightLab had filed in Delaware a motion to stay that Massachusetts action because the material facts in the dispute were not static.
The Court granted the motion to stay noting that:
[t]he court may exercise its discretion to grant a stay where ‘a controversy has not yet matured to a point where judicial action is appropriate.’ One factor indicating that a dispute is not ripe is where the ‘material facts’ of the dispute are not ‘static.’ Moreover, in deciding whether a claim is ripe for decision, Delaware courts look to ‘whether the interests of those who seek relief outweigh the interests of the court and of justice in postponing review until the question arises in some more concrete and final form.’
Noting that there was substantial overlap between the cases in Delaware and the Massachusetts litigation on appeal, the Court found that “LightLab sought to stay the [Massachusetts] litigation for substantially the same reasons that the defendants raise here – that is, that the material facts necessary to resolve the claims as to whether Axsun and Volcano have breached the Contract by supplying Volcano with a Laser are not yet static…. It was LightLab that desired the original stay, and at that time it knew of the issues that it now claims justify expedient action on the part of the defendants and the court.” The Court also noted that LightLab (i) sought a stay of its counterclaims because the facts were still fluid and that it did not make sense to have a trial on that basis, (ii) failed to move to expedite its appeal in Massachusetts, and (iii) now seeks to have serial trials on issues that LightLab selects without any exigent circumstances.