Law360 (January 15, 2021, 5:58 PM EST) -- An Eastern District of Texas judge on Friday pushed a retrial to March 8 in a breach of contract case that was disrupted halfway through testimony in November when 15 trial participants tested positive for the coronavirus.
U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant III's announcement comes a month after he canceled a January retrial, according to court records. In Friday's one-sentence order, Judge Mazzant neither provided a reason for the March start date nor explained why the January retrial was canceled.
He scheduled a two-week trial for the case, in which ResMan LLC accuses Karya Property Management LLC of giving another company unauthorized access to a property management software program in violation of a contract. The November mistrial came roughly halfway through the original trial, after one week of testimony.
An attorney for ResMan had originally suggested the March 8 date during a Dec. 4 teleconference, but a Karya attorney said they had a conflict. Judge Mazzant's order doesn't mention any conflict.
The original ResMan-Karya trial started with jury selection on Nov. 2. Jurors heard a little more than five days' worth of testimony before the judge advised them and attorneys in the case on Nov. 9 that a juror who had recently been excused for issues unrelated to COVID-19 had tested positive for the virus.
Judge Mazzant then suspended the trial and asked participants to get tested and provide the court with results as soon as they were received. Eventually, 15 participants tested positive for the virus, including two jurors, at least three members of the defense team, a "handful of folks" on the plaintiff's team, and five or six court staffers.
The judge granted a mistrial Nov. 17 and told attorneys he would schedule the retrial for sometime in 2021.
After the outbreak, Judge Mazzant pushed all of his remaining 2020 trials to 2021. Shortly after that, all federal districts in Texas announced plans to postpone their remaining 2020 trials as well.
Counsel for the parties didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.
ResMan is represented by Maria Wyckoff Boyce, Cristina Espinosa Rodriguez, Jillian Beck, Ira Jamshidi, S. Lee Whitesell and Jessica Ellsworth of Hogan Lovells, Michael Jones of Potter Minton PC, Tommy Jacks of Fish & Richardson PC and Greta Fails of Choate Hall & Stewart LLP.
Karya is represented by Michael Richardson and Seepan Parseghian of Beck Redden LLP and March Strachan, Richard Sayles and Robert Sayles of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP.
The case is ResMan LLC v. Karya Property Management LLC et al., case number 4:19-cv-00402, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
--Additional reporting by J. Edward Moreno. Editing by Bruce Goldman.
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