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Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Corp. v. Wockhardt USA LLC

United States District Court, Third Circuit

September 3, 2013

NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICALS, CORP. et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
WOCKHARDT USA LLC and WOCKHARDT LIMITED, Defendants. NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICALS, CORP. et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SUN PHARMA GLOBAL FZE, et al., Defendants. NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICALS, CORP. et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ACTAVIS LLC, et al., Defendants. NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICALS, CORP. et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ACCORD HEALTHCARE INC., et al., Defendants.

OPINION

SUSAN D. WIGENTON, District Judge.

Before the Court is Wockhardt USA LLC and Wockhardt Limited's (collectively "Wockhardt") Appeal from United States Magistrate Judge Madeline C. Arleo's ("Magistrate Judge Arleo") May 31, 2013 Order granting Plaintiffs' Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Novartis Corporation, and Novartis AG ("Plaintiffs") request for leave to amend the Disclosure of Asserted Claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72 and Local Civil Rule 72.1(c)(1). This Court, having considered the parties' submissions, decides this matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons stated below, Wockhardt's appeal is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

As Magistrate Judge Arleo provided the relevant facts on the record at the May 21, 2013 hearing, this Court will only provide the more recent background. (See Dkt. 78, Hr'g Tr. 21:3-27:2, May 21, 2013.) On May 31, 2013, Magistrate Judge Arleo issued an Order granting Plaintiffs' request to amend the Disclosure of Asserted Claims. On June 7, 2013, Wockhardt filed the instant appeal of Magistrate Judge Arleo's decision. On June 24, 2013, Plaintiffs filed their opposition and Wockhardt filed its reply on July 8, 2013.

LEGAL STANDARD

A magistrate judge may hear and determine any non-dispositive pretrial matter pending before the district court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). The district court will only reverse a magistrate judge's decision on these matters if it is "clearly erroneous or contrary to law." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); L. Civ. R. 72.1(c)(1)(A). "This Court will review a magistrate judge's findings of fact for clear error." Lithuanian Commerce Corp. v. Sara Lee Hosiery , 177 F.R.D. 205, 213 (D.N.J. 1997) (citing Lo Bosco v. Kure Eng'g Ltd. , 891 F.Supp. 1035, 1037 (D.N.J. 1995)).

A ruling is "clearly erroneous" if "although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed." United States v. United States Gypsum Co. , 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948). A decision is considered contrary to law if the magistrate judge has "misinterpreted or misapplied applicable law." Doe v. Hartford Life Acc. Ins. Co. , 237 F.R.D. 545, 548 (D.N.J. 2006).

The district court "will not reverse the magistrate judge's determination, even if the court might have decided the matter differently." owen v. Parking Auth. of City of Camden, No. 00-5765 , 2002 WL 1754493, at *3 (D.N.J. July 30, 2002). Furthermore, "[a] district judge's simple disagreement with the magistrate judge's findings is insufficient to meet the clearly erroneous standard of review." Andrews v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. , 191 F.R.D. 59, 68 (D.N.J. 2000).

As the Federal Circuit has guided, "[d]ecisions enforcing local rules in patent cases will be affirmed unless clearly unreasonable, arbitrary, or fanciful; based on erroneous conclusions of law; clearly erroneous; or unsupported by any evidence." O2 Micro Int'l Ltd. v. Monolithic Power Sys., Inc. , 467 F.3d 1355, 1366-67 (Fed. Cir. 2006) (citing Genentech, Inc. v. Amgen, Inc. , 289 F.3d 761, 774 (Fed. Cir. 2002)).

DISCUSSION

Pursuant to Local Patent Rule 3.7, leave to amend disclosures may be granted "by order of the Court upon a timely application and showing of good cause." L. Pat. R. 3.7. In particular, a party may amend its invalidity contentions or disclosures upon establishing three requirements: "(1) the moving party makes a timely application to the court; (2) there is good cause for the amendment; and (3) there is no undue prejudice to the adverse party." AstraZeneca AB v. Hanmi, USA, Inc., No. 11-760, 2013 WL 264609, at *1 (D.N.J. Jan. 23, 2013). Unlike the liberal standard for amending pleadings, "the philosophy behind amending claim charts is decidedly conservative, and designed to prevent the shifting sands' approach to claim construction." King Pharms., Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., No. 08-5974 , 2010 WL 2015258, at *4 (D.N.J. May 20, 2010) (citing Atmel Corp. v. Info. Storage Devices, Inc., No. 95-1987 , 1998 WL 775115, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 5, 1998)).

Analysis

In reviewing the record, this Court notes at the outset that there arguably are several reasons to deny Plaintiffs' request to amend its disclosure of asserted claims in this matter. In fact, if presented with the parties' arguments in the first instance, this Court may have been inclined to deny the request to amend. However, the standard of review here is not whether this Court disagrees with Magistrate Judge Arleo's ultimate decision; it is whether the decision is clearly erroneous or contrary to law. See Jazz Pharms., Inc. v. Roxane Labs., Inc., No. 10-6108, 2013 WL 785067, at *4 (D.N.J. Feb. 28, 2013) ("In short, mere disagreement with the judicial finding of a Magistrate Judge does not meet the clear error' standard required for reversal."); see also Bowen, 2002 WL 1754493, at ...


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