A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for tag: Depositions

The Climate Reality Project, Unsplash

We've written before about the risks of a deponent consulting with counsel during a deposition. This week, visiting Judge Wolson ordered a deposition reopened after counsel did just that:

AND NOW, this 27th day of November, 2023, upon consideration of Stragent’s Motion For Sanctions Against VCUSA Pursuant To Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 30(d)(2) For VCUSA’s Violation Of Local Rule 30.6 And Established Law (D.I. 100), and for the reasons set forth on the record during a hearing with the Parties, it is ORDERED that the Motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART as follows:
1. The Motion is GRANTED, to the extent Stragent seeks to reopen the deposition of [the deponent] …

An attorney's view after many a deposition—if you're lucky enough to catch a flight back that night.
An attorney's view after many a deposition—if you're lucky enough to catch a flight back that night. Eva Darron, Unsplash

This On Friday, Judge Wolson addressed—and rejected—an effort by an ANDA defendant to limit deposition discovery on the basis that discovery is, in its view, just not that important in an ANDA action. As set they put it:

This is an ANDA case. Black letter law holds that the infringement issues in an ANDA case are controlled by the ANDA itself. . . . Months ago, Defendants produced the ANDA and ANDA product samples from which the relevant infringement analysis must be derived. Plaintiff has now noticed the deposition of both Defendants and seven individuals. But the information that …

"We need to call the Court!" AI Generated, displayed with permission

The Court has been somewhat quiet this week as far as new decisions, so I figured I'd take this opportunity to lay out a few quick thoughts on recurring issues that come up in depositions in the District of Delaware.

This is some (but not all) of what you might hear when asking Delaware counsel "depositions are coming up next month, is there anything I should know?" (Experienced Delaware counsel might also talk about a few more topics, such as how to avoid accidentally making your witness prep materials discoverable—but those are for another post).

Here's the list:

  • When sending a notice of deposition, be sure to leave at …

The view as you take off on the redeye after a one-hour deposition of a non-critical witness
The view as you take off on the redeye after a one-hour deposition of a non-critical witness Saman Tsang, Unsplash

At this point, the vast majority of the impact of COVID-19 on the District of Delaware seems to have passed. The Court has entered Phase 4, full return to normal operations. It's becoming uncommon, at this point, to see counsel or Court personnel wearing masks at the courthouse.

The COVID-19 pandemic was obviously a horrible tragedy, but one positive response to it has been the widespread adoption of remote depositions, which are far (far!) more efficient for certain circumstances. If you've ever flown cross-country for a deposition, then boarded the red-eye back immediately after the deposition, you may agree.

But sometimes the other side won't agree to a remote deposition. That's why I found this order from Judge Stark (who it seems is still working hard in Delaware) to be interesting:

ORAL ORDER: Having reviewed the parties' letters regarding a discovery dispute (see D.I. 543, 544), IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs' request that MSN and Sandoz be required to produce Dr. Reus for an in-person deposition is DENIED. Virtual depositions have been permitted for fact discovery in this case due to the ongoing global health crisis. (See, e.g., D.I. 34 at 13-14) Defendants represent that their expert is at some greater-than-average risk of adverse health consequences were he to contract Covid and Plaintiffs fail to identify any meaningful prejudice that would ...

Fusion Medical Animation, Unsplash

Not all attorneys love remote depositions, even if they are much more convenient and practical in many cases (especially for foreign witnesses). The parties in Supernus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Lupin Limited, C.A. No. 21-1293-MN (D. Del.), an ANDA case, brought two disputes before Judge Noreika about remote depositions:

  1. Whether all parties should be required to make all witnesses available live, instead of via remote deposition; and
  2. Whether all parties, including a defendant who brought counterclaims, should be required to bring their witnesses to the United States for deposition without the other parties having to engage in Hague Convention procedures.

Plaintiff sought to force live, in-person depositions of all witnesses in the …

It can sometimes get messy when someone is deposed both in their individual capacity and as a Rule 30(b)(6) designee. Sometimes the parties specifically call out which sections of the transcript relate to 30(b)(6) topics or otherwise signpost for the record which bits of the deposition are meant to be binding on the corporation—but, frequently, the resulting transcript is less clear than one might hope. A discovery dispute earlier this week showcased an attempt at a novel solution to this problem that, unfortunately, doesn't work.

The defendants in Schwendimann v. Neenah, Inc., C.A. No. 19-361-LPS, noticed a deposition of the plaintiff's corporate head, Jodi Schwendimann, in her personal capacity, and also sent a 30(b)(6) notice for the corporation that …

Judge Burke last month addressed a motion to strike portions of an expert report regarding commercial acceptability of a non-infringing alternative.

As set forth in the report, an expert may rely on experience in the industry, but must explain "how that experience leads to the conclusions reached." Here, the expert opined that an alternative was commercially acceptable, but did not set forth why.

Then, when asked for more detail at his deposition, he responded with a snide comment:

[D]uring his deposition, [the expert] very ill−advisedly made things worse when he responded to a question on this subject by flippantly suggesting that he had "no backing" for the conclusion, and had simply "put [it] in on purpose" because Plaintiffs' expert similarly …

Technical difficulties
Technical difficulties Glitch While Streaming, Michael Dziedzic, Unsplash

As we've previously discussed the district's local rules and longstanding practice prohibit speaking to a witness about the substance of his testimony during a deposition. Specifically, D. Del. local rule 30.6 states:

From the commencement until the conclusion of deposition questioning by an opposing party, including any recesses or continuances, counsel for the deponent shall not consult or confer with the deponent regarding the substance of the testimony already given or anticipated to be given, except for the purpose of conferring on whether to assert a privilege against testifying or on how to comply with a court order.

Normally, the application of this rule is pretty straightforward. But what …

Tobias Eggerman, Unsplash

Depositions have been especially hard during the pandemic. Luckily, the quick proliferation of Zoom and its competitors have made it possible to take remote depositions that roughly approximate the experience of angrily objecting across a conference table.

International depositions, however, have remained problematic. In the past, witnesses could simply be shuffled from a country with hugely restrictive deposition procedures to a more friendly jurisdiction -- be it the Netherlands, the UK, a consulate, or even beautiful Delaware.

Travel restrictions and the closing of consular offices have made this a non-starter in many cases and so there has been a bit of a resurgence in proceedings under the Hague as parties struggle to get what discovery they …

FRCP 30 was amended in December 2020 to add a meet-and-confer requirement:

FRCP 30(b)(6) Amendment
U.S. Government Publishing Office

The amendment also suggests (by removing "then") that a party may designate its 30(b)(6) witness as part of the parties' discussions before the notice goes out.

No revised PDF of the rules is available yet, but Cornell's very-frequently-relied-upon page has already been updated.

No Change to Objection Procedures

One issue that commonly arises here in Delaware is that the parties serve an FRCP 30(b)(6) notice but do not receive objections until immediately before the deposition, leaving no time to resolve the issues.

Why is that? Because there is no deadline in the FRCP or the D. Del. local rules for objections to a …