In D. Del., stipulated extensions of the schedule are routine and are normally granted, with occasional exceptions. Usually, when the Court grants them, it results in an unremarkable order like this:
There's really nothing there. Occasionally, though, it results in an order like the below. Can you spot the difference?
Can you see it? It's tiny. The only difference is that the docket number ("52") is a link. I don't blame you if you missed it.
Usually, clicking on that link, you'll find a plain-Jane stamped or signed version of the stip as filed. Nothing remarkable or meaningful at all. It feels wrong to bill .1 hours to a client to click on the stip and look at …
Often times the hard part of a stipulation is just convincing everyone that they're not secretly giving up the farm. Lawyers are used to looking for hidden hooks in every proffered bite, and it's hard to convince us that this one is just tasty fish. We've all heard some scary store about a stipulation that gave away too much and changed the course of a case.
This is one of those stories . . .
But it turns out fine in the end.
UCB, Inc. et al v. Annora Pharma Private Ltd., C.A. No. 20-987-CFC (D. Del. Aug. 16, 2023), dealt with a patent for an anti-seizure drug compound. The defendants conceded infringement, …
We've noted before that parties routinely stipulate to extend the deadline to answer in D. Del. cases. You may have wondered—is there a limit to the number of times the parties can stipulate to extend the answer deadline?
Now we have the answer: Yes, at least for Judge Williams. Here is how he reacted when parties filed their ninth stipulation to extend the answer deadline:
ORAL ORDER: There have been nine (9) Stipulation and Proposed Orders entered in this case granting Defendant an extension of time for it to answer, move, or otherwise respond to the Complaint. See D.I. 20; D.I. 21; D.I. 22; D.I. 23; D.I. 24; D.I. 25; D.I. 26; D.I. 27; D.I. …
As we've mentioned, Local Rule 16.4(b) must be one of the most frequently-forgotten local rules in the District of Delaware. It sets forth that a party must include certain things in a stipulation extending the fact discovery or trial dealine:
Unless otherwise ordered, a request for an extension of deadlines for completion of discovery or postponement of the trial shall be made by motion or stipulation prior to expiration of the date deadline, and shall include the following:
(a) The reasons for the request; and
(b) Either a supporting affidavit by the requesting counsel’s client or a certification that counsel has sent a copy of the request to the client.
Stipulations to extend time are a popular, both as a topic on this blog and in how routinely they are filed. Usually, stipulations to extend time are granted without incident, so we highlight the outliers as reminders that sometimes there’s more to it than mere agreement between the parties.
Don’t forget! If you’re stipulating to extend the:
Deadline for discovery completion, or
Postponement of trial
You must include the reasons for the request in your stipulation or motion. And the local rules require you to include either a supporting affidavit by the requesting counsel’s client or a certification that counsel has sent a copy of the request to the client.
This latter requirement reminds me of pre-college: in which students who received sub-optimal test scores needed to get a parental signature to prove to the teacher that the parent had seen the score and reviewed the offending test.
The parties in The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania v. Genentech, Inc., C.A. 22-145-MN-JLH demonstrated how to correct deficiencies. Earlier this month, Judge Noreika issued an oral order denying their prior ...
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 ...
We've talked about how it's generally understood that parties can agree to modify certain deadlines in the District of Delaware without a stipulation, such as discovery response deadlines, deposition dates before the close of fact discovery, or deadlines under the Default Standard.
We were careful to exclude depositions occurring after the close of fact discovery from that list. After all, the fact discovery deadline is set by court order. Thus, parties often stipulate to take fact depositions after the close of fact discovery.
An opinion from Judge Williams yesterday held that these stips are unnecessary, and the parties can take depositions after the close of fact discovery without any stip to that effect:
ORAL ORDER: The Court has reviewed the Stipulation to take deposition outside fact discovery ...
Aaaand we're back. You'll note one of the stipulations listed as "iffy" (legal term) was stipulations to extend page limits. We got a good example of just how iffy those can be last week from Judge Noreika:
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Stipulation is DENIED. The request to extend page limits was filed seven minutes before the over-the-page limit brief was filed. The effect of this was that Plaintiff granted itself an extension without leave of Court and without respect for the Court and its rules. THEREFORE, IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Motion for Preliminary Injunction is DENIED for failure to comply with the page limits. Counsel may re-file the motion with a brief that complies with the Court's rules.
Janssen Biotech, Inc. v. Amgen, Inc., C.A. No. 22-1549-MN (D. Del. Mar. 2, 2023) (Oral Order)
Obviously, it didn't help that the parties filed their stip just minutes before the relevant brief, giving the Court no opportunity to act on it. But it led me to wonder just how often these stipulations are denied in ...
Parties in D. Del. patent actions frequently stipulate to adjustments of the case schedule, and these typically go through without any issue. So it always catches my eye when a stipulated stay is denied.
In Zogenix, Inc. v. Apotex Inc., C.A. No. 21-1252-RGA (D. Del.), and two related actions, one of the defendants had moved to dismiss one of the asserted patents in a related action, and the plaintiff had moved to amend its complaint to assert additional patents and join additional parties. The motions were filed in September and November, 2022, and remain pending.
The parties in the three actions stipulated to consolidate the actions for the purposes of discovery, and to stay the consolidated action until resolution of the motions to dismiss and amend.
Judge Andrews denied the motion, ordering that the parties instead move forward as if the motions were resolved in the broadest way:
ORAL ORDER: The Stipulation to Consolidate and Stay Case . . . is DENIED. The Court is not willing to stay the cases. The discovery deadlines in the two earlier cases . . . will not be extended. The parties should proceed as though the motion for leave to amend . . . will be granted and the motion to dismiss . . . will be denied. Ordered by Judge Richard G. Andrews on 3/1/2023.
We've noted before that stipulations to stay the entire case can be iffy, and Judge Andrews has previously rejected an attempt ...
This is a way of drafting scheduling order deadlines I haven't seen before. In Novarad Corp. v. Medivis, Inc., C.A. No. 21-1447-VAC-MPT (D. Del.), the parties initially agreed to a scheduling order that included a deadline for document production to be "substantially complete."
Many (maybe all) of the judges' form scheduling orders include a deadline for substantial completion of document production. Parties generally understand the substantial completion deadline to mean the production of enough documents that fact depositions can begin.
Exactly how many documents that is can be an occasional source of disagreement. There is not a lot of well-known precedent about exactly what proportion of documents must be produced before the substantial …
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