April 24th, 2008 by Benjamin Duranske
According to minutes (.pdf) obtained by Virtually Blind, Judge Manuel Real of the Central District of California has, on his own motion, ordered a status conference in Debonneville v. Pierce — presumably to ask why the parties have not yet finalized the settlement they reached last month.
Readers will recall that last month virtual property company IGE founders Brock Pierce and Alan Debonneville — who have been locked in a nasty, often highly personal lawsuit since last summer — told the court that they’d reached a settlement on all essential terms. Magistrate Judge Margaret Nagle (who is handling discovery and some pretrial issues in this case) ordered the parties to file a stipulation of dismissal with the Court by Monday, April 14, or else tell the Clerk of Court why they had not. At that time, VB noted that although settlement seemed imminent, with the parties behaving as antagonistically as they had so far, nothing was certain. As it turns out, no stipulation was filed by that date, and none has been yet.
Today, the Honorable Manuel Real, the District Court Judge assigned to the case, ordered a status conference for Friday (tomorrow) at 10:00 AM. This seems to indicate there is — surprise, surprise — some hang-up with the settlement. That alone would be interesting enough, but what makes this the equivalent of must-see-TV for people following game and virtual world lawsuits is the fact that the Honorable Manuel Real (pronounced as in “real world”) has a reputation for running a, um, rather tight ship in his courtroom, and isn’t likely to be impressed with the history of this case or the parties’ behavior.
It isn’t clear if the status conference is to be held by phone or in person, but either way, status conferences are typically held in open court and on the record. If the parties need to discuss specifics of the settlement, however, Judge Real may hold part or all of the conference behind closed doors. For Los Angeles readers with some time to kill tomorrow (who don’t mind gambling a bit of time against the chance that it’ll be closed to the public) Judge Real is in Courtroom 8 at the Federal Courthouse on Spring Street, and the status conference is scheduled for 10:00 AM. If you happen to attend and anything interesting happens, please drop by afterward with a report.
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