As I’ve noted before, the judge in the ongoing Superman and Superboy lawsuits has been using his decisions to push the parties toward a settlement. The decision awarding addition material to the Siegels was no exception–Judge Larson may have pushed DC by giving the Siegels Krypton, but he also pulled back from a broader ruling that would have given the Siegels the copyright in Luthor and other key material.
Whatever the implications for copyright and comics history, Judge Larson’s opinions serve as paradigmatic example of judging as case management, as each new major ruling reminds the parties that the court is likely to issue a verdict that will satisfy neither side.
Accordingly, Judge Larson’s latest order should not come as a surprise. Here’s the text of that August 20, 2009 order, including the name of the court-appointed mediator and the schedule for the next month:
In light of the Court’s rulings to date in these companion cases, which have narrowed the areas of dispute between the parties, the Court believes that it would be prudent at this juncture for the parties to once again engage in meaningful settlement talks.
Previously, the parties utilized the good services of their jointly chosen mediator, Judge Daniel Weinstein (Ret.). The Court has also been informed that former California Supreme Court Justice Edward A. Panelli has graciously agreed to provide his services as a mediator for the parties if they so choose. The parties may contact Justice Panelli at (415) ***-****.
Regardless of which mediator’s services the parties wish to utilize, the Court hereby ORDERS the parties to devote the next thirty (30) days to engaging in good faith efforts to settle their dispute in the Superman and Superboy litigation. At the conclusion of this period, on September 18, 2009, the parties are to file a joint report, outlining the efforts that they have taken in furtherance of settlement (without, of course, revealing any of the substance of those efforts).
If the parties have not settled these cases at that point, the Court ORDERS a Status Conference to take place on September 21, 2009, at 11:00 a.m. to set further dates for the remaining phase two accounting trial in the Superman litigation.
Additionally, at the Status Conference the parties are to inform the Court whether they have been able to stipulate amongst themselves who should serve as a special master/court-appointed expert (should the Court decide to formally make such an appointment) for said accounting trial. In the absence of such a stipulation at the Status Conference, the Court will thereafter submit the names of proposed candidates and provide counsel an opportunity to submit any conflict-related objections, as well as any preferences expressed by the parties, with said objection/submission of preferences being submitted in camera and under seal with the Court. The Court will thereafter decide whether to appoint such a special master/court-appointed expert and, if so, who that special master/court-appointed expert will be and what duties and responsibilities that person shall be charged with performing.