Judge Stark grants leave to amend and offers guidance on sufficiency of plaintiff's claims
In Gammino v. American Telephone and Telegraph Company, et al., C.A. No. 12-666-LPS (D. Del. Nov. 22, 2013), Judge Leonard P. Stark granted plaintiff’s motion for leave to file an amended complaint. Having granted this motion, the Court also denied as moot motions to dismiss direct and/or willful infringement claims contained in the original complaint. However, the Court still “offer[ed] . . . guidance as to the adequacy of the pleadings contained in the Amended Complaint.” Id. at 6.
One defendant opposed plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend, arguing that amendment was futile because the requested claims were barred by claim preclusion. Plaintiff’s proposed amendment added additional defendants and allegations related to direct and willful infringement. Id. at 2. Defendant argued that because plaintiff had previously dismissed indirect infringement claims against all defendants with prejudice, and “because Plaintiff's claim for direct infringement is asserted against the same defendant on the same alleged facts, the adjudication on the merits of the claim for indirect infringement must also bar Plaintiff's claim for direct infringement." Id. at 3-4. The Court disagreed because the dismissal of the indirect claims occurred in the instant action and had not resulted in a final judgment; for res judicata to apply, “an adjudication on the merits must have occurred in a previous proceeding and resulted in a final judgment.” Id. at 4. Furthermore, the dismissed causes of action arose under a different section of the patent laws than the direct claims. Id.
Because the Court granted plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend, its Amended Complaint was now the operative complaint. Therefore, the Court denied as moot other defendants’ motions to dismiss direct and/or willful infringement claims contained in the original complaint. Id. at 6. But, “in light of the length of time that this action has already been pending, and in hopes that yet another round of motions to dismiss may be avoided,” the Court “offer[ed] . . . guidance as to the adequacy of the pleadings contained in the Amended Complaint.” Id. at 6. The Court examined plaintiff’s allegations and observed that its direct and willful infringement allegations appeared to be adequate under the applicable standards. Id. at 7-8.