The headline is a nice quote from a Judge Burke oral order last week in Bausch & Lomb Incorporated v. SBH Holdings LLC, C.A. No. 20-1463-GBW-CJB, D.I. 77 (D. Del. May 12, 2023).
There, the defendant moved to stay but apparently failed to meet-and-confer at all before moving. The plaintiff wisely called them out for failing to do so:
As an initial matter, it is undisputed that SBH did not attach a certification pursuant to D. Del. LR 7.1.1 to its Motion or letter brief; nor could it have, because there was no meet and confer between counsel. The first B+L heard about SBH’s Motion was in SBH’s letter to the Court …
Parties can freely stipulate to many things in the District of Delaware, and often stipulations to extend deadlines are filed close to the last minute, especially where the parties are working toward agreement but ultimately cannot agree on the final filing in time (or else are having trouble connecting with the other side).
However, stipulations filed close to the Delaware witching hour (5:00PM EST) can be fraught with risk of the Court's denial, as we’ve seen in past heart-stopping examples. We’ve warned before that requests to move Court-scheduled conferences are in the “iffy” category, and combined with last minute filing, can end in disappointment for everyone, as shown in an oral order from Judge Noreika last week in Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. v. Lupin Limited et al., C.A. 21-1042, D.I. 197 (D. Del. Jul. 16, 2021):
On April 17, 2023, the Court instructed the parties to talk to each other about their disputes so that a follow-up call with the Court (set for April 21, 2023) would be more productive than the prior call. On April 21, 2023, a few hours before the set call, the parties submitted a stipulation requesting the April 21 call be delayed. After further inquiries, it became clear that, in the five days after the Court directed the parties to TALK, they did not do so. The Court intended to address that during the April 21 call, but no counsel appeared for the call (notwithstanding that the Court had not granted the request for a delay). THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, should the parties not inform the Court that they have resolved their dispute in full by Tuesday April 25, 2023, lead trial counsel SHALL appear in person in Courtroom 4A on April 26, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. ORDERED by Judge Maryellen Noreika on 4/21/2023.
Judge Noreika previously indicated frustration with the magnitude of this particular discovery dispute (on search methods to find responsive documents), so the parties were on thin ice long before ...
Judge Norieka issued a notable oral order earlier this week in Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. v. Lupin Limited, C.A. No. 21-1042-MN (D. Del.).
The context is not fully clear from the docket, but it looks like the parties contacted the Court to initiate a discovery dispute regarding the sufficiency of the plaintiff's document collection efforts. But, instead of issuing the typical order starting the process, Judge Noreika ordered the parties to meet-and-confer again and set some expectations as to how the Court will handle the dispute:
ORAL ORDER - The parties have requested a discovery dispute teleconference regarding Defendants' request for discovery into the search methods Plaintiff used to find responsive documents. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the parties shall meet and confer again. Thereafter, on or before 5:00 PM on 3/20/2023 [five days from the order], the parties shall provide the Court with the current version of the discovery requests, explaining what part or parts remain in dispute. The Court will not act as a negotiator to whittle down overly broad requests. Therefore, Defendants should propose requests of appropriate scope with the understanding that the Court may simply deny requests that are overly broad on their face.
It looks like the Court may be trying out a more efficient way to resolve disputes over discovery requests.
Just last week, we wrote about Judge Noreika ordering an in-person meet-and-confer to occur between lead trial counsel regarding claim terms, in the courtroom in Delaware, and "continuing until excused by the Court." In ordering the in-person meet-and-confer, Judge Noreika noted that the parties had "spoke[n] for just 20 minutes about 10 disputed terms" during their meet-and-confer.
Yesterday, Chief Judge Connolly issued an order along similar lines—but outright canceling the Markman hearing. Like Judge Noreika did, the Court noted that the parties had failed to adequately meet-and-confer about a disputed term:
Plaintiffs first made their new proposal [to construe "tangent"] during the "meet and confer" discussion required by paragraph 13 of the Revised Scheduling Order. . . …
Judge Noreika is well known at this point for requiring real, substantive meet-and-confers on claim construction. In multiple cases, she has directed parties to further meet-and-confer after finding their initial efforts insufficient.
She issued another such order this week, this time directing the parties to have what appears to be a supervised meet-and-confer, in person in the courtroom:
ORDER . . . The parties did not comply with the Court's February 13, 2023 Oral Order requiring a good-faith meet and confer. Instead, the parties spoke for just 20 minutes about 10 disputed terms, as well as "hearing logistics" and a proposal by MarkForged to request deferral of certain claim constructions until dispositive motions. There is no breakdown indicating …
This is an interesting order from earlier this month that we never had a chance to post about.
In Ecobee, Inc. v. EcoFactor, Inc., C.A. No. 21-323-MN (D. Del.), the parties had a Markman hearing scheduled for December 8. As she often does, in the leadup to the hearing, Judge Noreika issued an order directing lead counsel for the parties to meet-and-confer to reduce the number of disputes:
ORAL ORDER . . . IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, on or before 12/1/2022, local and lead counsel (i.e., those attorneys that will be leading trial) for the parties shall meet and confer and file an amended joint claim construction chart that sets forth the …
The District of Delaware sometimes requires the parties to file joint status reports, usually either at dates set in the scheduling order (e.g. an "interim status report") or following developments in the case that require more information, like a stipulated stay that has expired, or after a communication from the parties regarding a development in the case.
Typically, by convention, plaintiff handles the initial draft of these reports—but not always. Either way, one side will send a draft, and the other side will prove its position, sometimes reflexively opposing whatever is in the initial draft. The final report will often be split, with "Plaintiff's position" and "Defendant's position," although sometimes the parties will agree to a …
Last week, Judge Noreika issued an interesting oral order regarding a claim construction dispute that was briefed—haphazardly, apparently—in the parties' summary judgment papers.
She criticized the briefing, ordered the parties to meet-and-confer and file ordinary claim construction briefing, and threatened sanctions if the parties don't try hard enough to reach agreement:
ORAL ORDER − In their summary judgment papers, the parties include arguments that either three or four additional claim terms must be construed by the Court. The parties' arguments are disjointed, do not focus on the intrinsic evidence and do not demonstrate any real understanding of what that other side's construction is. Thus, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, on or before 5:00 PM on …
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