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Ansell Healthcare Products LLC v. Glycobiosciences Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 6, 2018

ANSELL HEALTHCARE PRODUCTS LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
GLYCOBIOSCIENCES INC. Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Honorable James B. Clark, III United States Magistrate Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on a motion by Plaintiff Ansell Healthcare Products LLC (“Plaintiff” or “Ansell”) for leave to file a Supplemental Complaint [Pl.'s Br. Supp. Mot. Suppl. Compl., ECF No. 17].[1] Defendant GlycoBioSciences Inc. (“Defendant” or “Glyco”) opposes Plaintiff's motion [Def.'s Br. Opp'n, ECF No. 26]. The Court has reviewed the parties' submissions, and has considered the motion without oral argument pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b) and L. Civ. R. 78.1(b). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion to file a Supplemental Complaint [ECF No. 17] is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The legal relationship between the parties is lengthy and contentious. This case arose out of a contract dispute between Ansell, a New Jersey limited liability company, and Glyco, a Canadian corporation in Ontario. See Compl. ¶¶ 5-6, ECF No. 1. On December 16, 2013, Ansell and Glyco (collectively the “parties”) entered into a written Patent Purchase Agreement (the “Purchase Agreement”) assigning all of Plaintiff's patent rights in the invention disclosed as U.S. Patent Application No. 12/256, 648. See Id. ¶ 9. In exchange for the transfer of patent rights, the Purchase Agreement provided that Glyco was to make certain timed payments totaling $50, 000.00 (“Milestone Payments”) and additional royalty fee payments in an amount equal to seven percent of net sales. See Id. ¶ 10. On December 14, 2016, Plaintiff initiated this action alleging, inter alia, that Defendant breached the Purchase Agreement by failing to pay all amounts due and owing thereunder- specifically, $35, 000.00 remaining in Milestone Payments and all royalty fees provided under the Purchase Agreement. See Id. ¶ 21.

         The parties have filed various motions in this matter, including motions to dismiss [ECF Nos. 7, 18], a motion to transfer [ECF No. 18], and Plaintiff's present motion to supplement its Complaint [ECF No. 20]. The first motion was filed on April 21, 2017, when Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for the lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See ECF No. 7. On August 30, 2017, the undersigned submitted a Report and Recommendation (“R & R”), recommending that Defendant's motion to dismiss be denied. See ECF No. 16. Thereafter, the District Court adopted the R & R in its entirety as the Opinion of the Court and denied Defendant's motion to dismiss. See ECF No. 23.

         On August 9, 2017, Defendant filed a motion to transfer venue, or in the alternative, to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint under the doctrine of forum non conveniens. See ECF No. 18. Although Defendant's motion was not submitted in compliance with Local Civil Rule 7.2, the undersigned considered the motion on the merits and issued a R & R for the District Court to review. See ECF No. 41. Defendant objected to the R & R [ECF No. 42], and Plaintiff filed a response to Defendant's objection [ECF No. 43]. Currently, the R & R is pending before the Honorable Susan D. Wigenton, United States District Court Judge.

         Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for leave to file a Supplemental Complaint pursuant to Rule 15(d). Plaintiff's proposed Supplemental Complaint repeats the allegations of the original Complaint and proposes to add claims for tortious interference with contract (Count II), tortious interference with prospective economic disadvantage (Count III), common law trade libel (Count IV), and defamation (Count V). See generally Suppl. Compl., ECF No 17-2. As set forth more fully below, the proposed Supplemental Complaint relates three incidents that transpired following Plaintiff's initiation of this action.

         Plaintiff alleges that on May 31, 2017 Kevin Drizen, the President of Defendant Glyco (“Glyco's President”), sent an email to Plaintiff's competitor Reckitt Benckiser, LLC (“Reckitt”) falsely claiming that Glyco was the owner of Ansell's polyisoprene condom technology. See Pl.'s Br. Supp. Mot. at 4, ECF No. 17 (hereafter “Plaintiff's Brief”); see also Exhibit B, ECF No. 17-4. According to Plaintiff, Glyco claimed ownership of the same patents Ansell is asserting against Reckitt in a case pending in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware (“U.S.D.C. for the Dist. of Delaware”). See Pl.'s Br. at 4, ECF No. 17. Plaintiff contends that the purpose of Defendant's actions was to retaliate against Ansell for filing the present matter, by interfering with Ansell's prosecution of the Reckitt litigation. See Id. at 5.

         Similarly, On June 3, 2017, Plaintiff claims that Glyco's President sent a letter via email to the President of Humanwell Healthcare Co. (“Humanwell”) falsely claiming that Glyco is the owner of Ansell's polyisoprene condom patent portfolio (the “patent portfolio”). See Pl.'s Br. at 4, ECF No. 17; see also Exhibit E, ECF No. 17-7. According to Plaintiff, Ansell is engaged in an effort to complete the sale of its “Sexual Wellness” global business unit to Humanwell. See Pl.'s Br. at 3, ECF No. 17. Although it was not stated directly by Plaintiff, through Plaintiff's allegations it is implied that the patent portfolio, of which Glyco is allegedly claiming ownership, is to be included in the sale of Ansell's global business unit.

         Finally, on August 1, 2017 Plaintiff claims that Glyco's President sent a second email to the President of Humanwell, reiterating the falsehoods stated in his previous email and attaching a letter that he sent to Judge Richard Andrews of the U.S.D.C. for the Dist. of Delaware. Id. at 4. According to Plaintiff, in Defendant's letter to Judge Andrews, Defendant falsely claimed rights in the Ansell patents asserted against Reckitt in litigation. Id; see also Exhibit F, ECF No. 17-8. Plaintiff contends that the purpose of Glyco's actions was “clearly to interfere with and hinder the sale of Ansell's Sexual Wellness global business unit to Humanwell, in retaliation against Ansell for filing the present matter against Glyco for breach of the Patent Purchase Agreement.” See Pl.'s Br. at 5, ECF No. 17.

         Based on these arguments, Plaintiff submits that this Court should permit Ansell to file a Supplemental Complaint pursuant to Rule 15(d). In response, Defendant contends that Plaintiff's motion is futile. More specifically, Defendant contends that “[Plaintiff's] complaint will need to be dismissed because it alleges actions that will be governed by Canadian law and the matter handled in Canada.” Def.'s Br. Opp'n at 2, ECF No. 26. Defendant further claims that “disposition by transfer will moot any motions or proceeding and save the Court time and avoid the cost of adjudicating papers on an academic motion.” Id.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 governs Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a Supplemental Complaint. The relevant part of the rule reads, “the court may, on just terms, permit the party to serve a supplemental pleading setting out any transaction, occurrence or event that happened after the date of the pleading to be supplemented.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(d).

         Whether to allow a party to file a supplemental pleading is within the sound discretion of the district court. See Owens-Illinois, Inc. v. Lake Shore Land Co., 610 F.2d 1185, 1189 (3d Cir. 1979). “An application for leave to file a supplemental pleading . . . should be freely granted when doing so will promote the economic and speedy disposition of the entire controversy between the parties, will not cause undue delay or trial inconvenience, and will not prejudice the ...


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