A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

We have written about the ways in which a party can, despite its intention to object to a portion of a Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, waive or otherwise fail to properly assert its objections.

However, an even more fundamental issue is whether a party is permitted to object in the first instance (or more specifically, whether a party is entitled to have a Judge rule on the merits of its objections). In a recent decision, Judge Andrews could not find "any reason to consider the merits of Plaintiffs' objections" to an R&R in which the plaintiffs prevailed.

Judge Andrews' decision evokes the general rule that a party cannot appeal from a judgment in its favor. Although Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C) - which set out the basic framework for objections to R&Rs on dispositive motions - do not themselves preclude objections by a prevailing party (both discuss objections to the proposed findings and recommendations by "any party"), Judge Andrews suggested that where a party prevails on the substance of the issues before the Magistrate Judge, that party's objections may be moot.

The Magistrate Judge recommended denying defendants' motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and recommended "that Plaintiffs be allowed to move forward with each of the nine Counts of the Second Amended Complaint, . . ." The R&R also "carv[ed] out particular allegations that have not met the pleading standard."

Only the plaintiffs objected, apparently focusing on the portions of the complaint that the Magistrate Judge carved out as implausible or otherwise faulty. Judge Andrews concluded that Plaintiffs' objections did not need to be considered in detail, and instead took a "holistic" approach in his de novo review, finding that the Plaintiffs had stated a claim:

"The complaint should not be 'parsed piece by piece to determine whether each allegation, in isolation, is plausible."' . . . "[My] obligation is not to read each allegation in isolation nor to nitpick a complaint line by line, paragraph by paragraph." . . . Rather, I consider the "well-pleaded factual allegations" using a "holistic approach." . . . Using that approach, Plaintiffs have plausibly stated a claim for each count, as the Magistrate Judge held. I will thus allow the Plaintiffs to move forward with each Count in their Second Amended Complaint.

He dismissed Plaintiffs' objections as moot, and denied the motions to dismiss.

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