Staying All But One in Colorado

GS Holistic manufactures and distributes a glass gravity infuser under the brand name Stündenglass, the other is a line of portable hand-held vaporizers under the G Pen brand.

In July and August of 2023, GS Holistic filed more than 50 nearly identical small-dollar trademark infringement cases against small owners of smoke/head shops or vape shops in federal court in the District of Colorado. All these GS Holistic cases were collectively assigned to Judge Regina M. Rodriguez and Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter.

In GS Hoilistic, LLC v. Vaportoke, Inc., No. 23-cv-01513 (D. Colo. Jan. 12, 2024), the Court stayed all of GS Holistic’s other Colorado lawsuits because “based on GS Holistic’s approach to these numerous cases, it appeared that its strategy was more about intimidating small business owners with the prospect of large adverse judgments than it was about the proper prosecution of lawsuits by following the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules of this Court.” The Court noted that even the “relatively simple task of filing Scheduling Orders . . . proved too much for Plaintiff’s counsel.” For example, “two identical and incorrect Scheduling Orders were submitted” in separate cases.

            The best way to ensure that these cases will progress in an efficient, non-chaotic manner is to require that Plaintiff and its counsel move forward one case at a time— starting with the lowest numbered case. Once a case is resolved, either by settlement, dismissal, summary judgment, or trial, then the Court will lift the stay on the next lowest numbered case. Addressing cases seriatim will in some respect mirror the approach of trying “bell-weather” cases in large multidistrict matters. The resolution of the first few cases will provide a roadmap, and perhaps a model, for resolution of later cases. It is apparent to the Court that Plaintiff and its counsel bit off more than they could chew by bringing more than 50 individual lawsuits simultaneously without the staff or wherewithal to competently prosecute all the matters. Going forward, they will now have to take baby bites and demonstrate the ability to digest each case, one at time.

            The Court recognizes that a near-universal stay may impose some hardship on specific Defendants, depending on Defendants’ individual circumstances. Having a pending lawsuit hanging over one’s head can impose some negative consequences on a business. Therefore, if particular Defendants are in agreement and good cause is shown, then the Court would consider lifting stays in other cases on a case-by-case basis. Moreover, since counsel in Vaportoke represents Defendants in separate GS Holistic matters, the Court would consider lifting the stay to handle those cases simultaneously.

The Court concluded its order by stating that “GS Holistic and its counsel are hereby placed on notice that any future failures to follow the local or federal rules, or orders of the Court, may result in dismissal of the case, or potentially, all cases.”

 

Thomas P. Howard, LLC litigates nationwide including in Colorado.