Bifurcation of Civil Trials

John P. Rowley III *

Richard G. Moore **

 

Despite its widespread and long-standing recognition as a valuable docket-control device, the bifurcation of issues in civil trials has generated considerable debate among legal scholars and judges. The state and federal courts both utilize bifurcation, and the Supreme Court of Appeals in Virginia recognized the advantages of the procedural device as early as 1915. Nonetheless, authority for the bifurcation of issues in civil trials in Virginia has remained clouded. The Supreme Court of Virginia lifted at least some of the clouds when it decided Allstate Insurance Co. v. Wade, thereby rejecting the position taken in an amicus curiae brief filed by the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association that bifurcation is not authorized under Virginia law.

 

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*John P. Rowley, III is a litigation partner at Baker & Mckenzie L.L.P., Washington, D.C.

**Richard G. Moore is a contract attorney at Holland & Knight L.L.P., McLean, Virginia, where he practices complex civil litigation. Mr. Moore is also a former Assistant Judge Advocate General of the Navy (Military Law) and a retired United States Marine Corps Brigadier General.