United States District Court, D. Delaware
INTEGRA LIFESCIENCES CORP., INTEGRA LIFESCIENCES SALES LLC, CONFLUENT SURGICAL, INC., and INCEPT LLC, Plaintiffs,
HYPERBRANCH MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY, INC., Defendant.
Christopher J. Burke UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiffs Integra LifeSciences Corp.,
Integra LifeSciences Sales LLC, Confluent Surgical, Inc. and
Incept LLC's (collectively, "Plaintiffs")
Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint
("Motion"), filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 15(a)(2). (D.I. 226) Defendant HyperBranch Medical
Technology, Inc. ("HyperBranch" or
"Defendant") opposes the Motion.
to amend a pleading should be freely granted when justice so
requires. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). However, a court may deny
leave to amend, inter alia, when to grant such a
motion would cause "substantial or undue prejudice to
the non-moving party" (here, Defendant), such as where
"allowing an amendment would result in additional
discovery, cost, and preparation to defend against new facts
or new theories" in a manner that would amount to a
"hardship[.]" Cureton v. Nat'l Collegiate
Athletic Ass 'n, 252 F.3d 267, 273 (3d Cir. 2001).
For the reasons set out below, the Court concludes that
permitting amendment at this stage would cause substantial
and undue prejudice to Defendant.
Defendant (indeed, all parties, and the Court) has spent
substantial time and effort attempting to address and narrow
the issues in what is already a large, complex matter. This
is a six-patent case, one that involves complicated chemical
technologies. The case has to date generated a significant
(and much higher than average) number of legal skirmishes
(even for a patent litigation matter). (See, e.g.,
D.I. 164 at 12) Since the Complaint was filed 17 months ago
in September 2015, the parties have proceeded through a
lengthy and involved preliminary injunction phase, which
required: (1) the production of significant amounts of
documents, including from third parties; (2) provision of
invalidity and noninfringement contentions; (3) a number of
fact witness depositions; (4) expert discovery; (5) the
resolution of numerous scheduling and discovery disputes; and
(6) a hearing on the preliminary injunction motion, which
resulted in the Court recommending denial of that motion.
(D.I. 229 at 1, 3) After Plaintiffs' preliminary
injunction motion was denied, a schedule was entered five
months ago, in September 2016. (D.I. 173) Thereafter, the
parties have expended more time on discovery (and on
discovery disputes), have narrowed the number of claims and
references at issue, and are currently in the midst of claim
construction briefing (involving 20 disputed claim terms).
(Id.) Having spent significant energy attempting to
grapple with and narrow down the key issues in what is
already a substantial matter, Defendant would be harmed by
the addition now of even more claims/patents to the case.
the additions in the proposed Amended Complaint are not
minor. Plaintiffs wish to add claims of infringement
regarding two new patents, which would make this an
eight-patent case. It is true, as Plaintiffs note, that there
is overlap between the operative Complaint and the proposed
Amended Complaint, including the fact that the parties are
the same in both, and both focus on the same accused product.
(D.I. 224 at 1-2) But the two new patents have different
inventors than do the other six patents-in-suit, and they
implicate mechanical spray assemblies that were not directly
at issue as to the claims of infringement regarding the other
six patents. (Id., ex. 1 at ¶¶ 11-18; D.I.
229 at 1, 3) Defendant is, relatedly, also understandably
concerned with how a jury will be able to grasp its arguments
at trial, were a case as large as this to become ever larger
were the Motion granted, this would surely do violence to the
current case schedule. Plaintiffs filed the Motion on the
last day they were permitted to do so under the Scheduling
Order. (D.I. 173 at ¶ 2; D.I. 224) And the addition of
the new patents will no doubt necessitate significant
additional fact and expert discovery, claim construction and
discovery dispute proceedings, and dispositive motion
practice. (D.I. 229 at 3); cf. Semiconductor Energy Lab.
Co., Ltd. v. Sanyo N. Am. Corp., No. C.A. 00-018-GMS,
2001 WL 194303, at *3-4 (D. Del. Feb. 22, 2001) (denying a
motion to amend to add claims as to two new patents, where
the motion was filed 12 months into the case and three months
after the deadline for filing motions for leave to amend, and
where the addition of the two patents would necessitate
further discovery and an alteration to the case schedule).
The current trial date would surely be lost, and the case
schedule would no doubt need to be pushed back by many months
(at least). Defendant opposes such delay in having this
matter resolved. (D.I. 229 at 3-4)
of these reasons, the Court finds that to grant the Motion
would cause substantial and undue prejudice to Defendant.
Cf. Wi-LANInc. v. Sharp Elecs. Corp., Civil Action
No. 15-379-LPS, (D.I. 60) (D. Del. June 10, 2016) (denying a
motion for leave to amend to add three new parties that was
filed on the last day permitted by the scheduling order,
inter alia, because "allowing the proposed
amendment would unduly delay this case .. . unfairly
prejudicing Defendants"); Howard Found. Holdings,
Ltd. v. Int'l Vitamin Corp., Civil Action No.
12-35-RGA, (D.I. 62) (D. Del. Jan. 28, 2013) (denying a
motion seeking leave to amend to add new defendants that was
filed on the last day permitted by the scheduling order, as
to grant the motion would "necessitate a lengthy