A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for tag: Good Cause

Claim construction is one of the classic decision points in patent litigation. Like the cherry blossoms portend spring, a ripening Markman signals to litigants that the season of claim narrowing and expert reports has come at last.

AI-Generated, displayed with permission

But sometimes the winter is long and cold. Although several of our Judges formally endeavor to issue a Markman decision within 60 days of the hearing, their busy dockets often make that impossible. You'll thus sometimes see the parties try and push off the various deadlines that would normally be a bit easier with a Markman in place—most notably expert reports, which otherwise might have to be done with alternative constructions.

(Eds. note - an earlier draft of this post extended the spring metaphor a further two paragraphs. I think Valentine's Day is affecting me.)

An Oral Order from Judge Burke last week serves as a reminder that the lack of Markman order is not good cause per se to push those other deadlines. The Markman hearing in Bausch & Lomb Inc. v. SBH Holdings LLC, C.A. No. 20-1463-GBW-CJB (D. Del. Feb. 9, 2024) (Oral Order), was originally scheduled for June 2023, with opening expert reports due the next February. The hearing was rescheduled to September 2023, however, shortening the interregnum. When Judge Burke issued a statement on the docket notifying the parties that the Order would not be issued within 60 days of the hearing, the defendant moved to amend the schedule so that expert reports would not be due until 90 days after the order (with all subsequent events occurring a proportionate time after that).

Plaintiff opposed, however, noting that ...

Andrew Russell

When a party asks to do something outside of the time limits set by the scheduling order, the Court looks to whether there is "good cause" under FRCP 16(b)(4) to modify the scheduling order. Good cause requires diligence, generally meaning that the movant could not have reasonably met the deadline it's trying to move.

Last week we got two examples of diligence analyses from the Court, one that found that a party was diligent, and one that didn't. I thought it would be interesting to line them up and compare them.

"Immediately" = Good Cause

First, Judge Fallon found good cause where a plaintiff sought to depose a third-party witness after the close of fact discovery, after the …

Early case:
Early case: "No, we're not amending, why are you bugging us?" Late case: "Oh no! There was a deadline to amend?" Eric Rothermel, Unsplash

Rule 16 says that a schedule "may be modified only for good cause and with the judge’s consent." This rule comes up any time a party wants to do something after a deadline set in the scheduling order, which is one of the more common litigation issues.

Parties will often, for example, let the deadline to amend the pleadings pass by, only to later realize that they want to assert an inequitable conduct defense (defendants) or wrap in a related entity (plaintiffs).

Good cause requires diligence, and in practice parties often frame the diligence discussion …

In the before time, when the green grass grew tall even in the wan Wilmington sun, all scheduling orders had two rounds of contentions, one early in the case and another near the close of fact discovery. A bit over two years ago, Judge Connolly shook things up by introducing a new form order in his cases that included only a single round of contentions early in the case and requiring "good cause" to amend.

AI-Generated, displayed with permission

And so, on this slow news day, I decided to take a look back at how often parties manage to show the requisite good cause to amend their contentions in cases assigned to Judge Connolly (many of these are decided in the first instance by a magistrate judge).

The upshot is, that most of these motions seem to succeed. DocketNavigator shows 10 such motions in cases assigned to Judge Connolly (which strikes me as low, but I'm not a soulless trawling algorithm, so what do I know?). Of those 7 have been granted, and only 3 have been denied. Normally I would put in the percentages here, but I trust you all to do the math on this one.

This brings to mind another question, which I shall raise in a further blog post on another slow day, does Judge Connolly receive fewer motions like these than our judges who don't specifically require good cause? I.e., are parties who would otherwise just file late contentions and take their shot under Pennypack factors deciding not to do so because they know they can't show good cause?!

All this and more on next weeks episode of IPDE! (Batman theme plays)