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Sorin Group USA, Inc. v. St. Jude Medical, S.C., Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

November 10, 2016

SORIN GROUP USA, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
ST. JUDE MEDICAL, S.C., INC., Defendant.

          Jared B. Briant, FAEGRE BAKER DANIELS LLP, James W. Poradek, Katherine S. Razavi, Timothy M. Sullivan, and Patrick Bottini, FAEGRE BAKER DANIELS LLP for plaintiff.

          Joseph W. Hammell and JoLynn M. Markison, DORSEY & WHITNEY LLP for defendant.

          ORDER AFFIRMING ORDER OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE DATED NOVEMBER 2, 2016

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM Chief Judge United States District Court

         On September 22, 2016, Defendant St. Jude Medical, S.C., Inc. (“St. Jude”) filed a motion for an order granting leave to take the depositions of Dr. Christiano Caldeira and Dr. Ernesto Jimenez. Counsel for Plaintiff Sorin Group USA, Inc. (“Sorin”) objected to the new depositions at this late stage, just weeks before trial. United States Magistrate Judge Janie S. Mayeron orally denied St. Jude's motion on October 17, 2016, indicating she would file a written order explaining her reasoning. On October 26, 2016, before the Magistrate Judge filed her written order, St. Jude filed objections to the denial of its motion. The Magistrate Judge then filed a written order on November 2, 2016. The Court will affirm the Magistrate Judge's order denying St. Jude's motion.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         St. Jude and Sorin are competitors in the market for heart valves and related products. (Mem. Op. & Order on Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. & Pl.'s Mot. to Exclude Expert Test. (“Summ. J. Order”) at 2, Mar. 31, 2016, Docket No. 167.) This case involves two former Sorin employees, Danna Homan and John Mitch Tracy. (Id. at 1-2.) In its Complaint, Sorin alleges St. Jude recruited Homan and Tracy, intending for both to breach their contractual obligations to Sorin and, thereby, compete with Sorin. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 4, Oct. 5, 2015, Docket No. 120.)

         St. Jude served its first set of interrogatories on Sorin in February 2015. (Decl. of Joseph W. Hammell (“Hammell Decl.”), Ex. F, Sept. 22, 2016, Docket No. 177.) In March 2015, Sorin responded and identified Dr. Caldeira and Dr. Jimenez as “accounts for which Homan was responsible.” (Decl. of Jared B. Briant (“Briant Decl.”), Ex. A at 2, Sept. 29, 2016, Docket No. 182; id., Ex. C at 3-4.) After that date, various deponents discussed the relevance of Dr. Caldeira and Dr. Jimenez to the lawsuit. (Hammell Decl., Ex. H (Tracy deposition on May 12, 2015, referencing Dr. Caldeira and Dr. Jimenez more than 50 times); Briant Decl., Ex. D at 4-6 (Chad Randall deposition on July 16, 2015, referencing Dr. Caldeira and Dr. Jimenez); id., Ex. E at 4-6 (Julia Marquardt deposition on July 15, 2015, referencing Dr. Caldeira numerous times)).

         Fact discovery closed on August 10, 2015. (Order Granting Joint Stipulation to Modify Scheduling Order, July 23, 2015, Docket No. 87.) The same day, Sorin moved to amend its complaint to add a claim for punitive damages based largely on Sorin's loss of Dr. Caldeira's business. (Pl.'s Mot. to Amend to Add Punitive Damages, Aug. 10, 2015, Docket No. 88; see also Briant Decl., Ex. A at 2.) On August 14, 2015, the parties exchanged expert reports and Sorin's expert analyzed damages flowing from the loss of both Dr. Caldeira's and Dr. Jimenez's business. (Hammell Decl., Ex. A.)

         On August 20, 2015, St. Jude moved for summary judgment. (Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., Aug. 20, 2015, Docket No. 102.) To support its motion, St. Jude submitted declarations from both Dr. Caldeira and Dr. Jimenez. (See Decl. of Dr. Christiano C. Caldeira, Oct. 19, 2015, Docket No. 129; Decl. of Dr. Ernesto Jimenez, Oct. 19, 2015, Docket No. 132.) Sorin objected to the declarations, but the Court considered the declarations as part of the motion for summary judgment. (Summ. J. Order at 20 n.6.)

         In May 2016, Sorin and St. Jude almost agreed to stipulate that Sorin would depose Dr. Caldeira and Dr. Jimenez, (Hammell Decl., Ex. C), but Sorin ultimately decided it did not want to take the depositions, (id., Ex. D). In June 2016, the Court held a settlement conference, but the parties did not reach a settlement. After unsuccessful settlement negotiations, St. Jude spoke to Dr. Caldeira and Dr. Jimenez about testifying at trial. (Id. ¶ 6.) Both declined to travel to Minnesota for the November trial date but indicated to St. Jude that they would sit for a deposition in their states of residence. (Id.)

         On August 12, 2016, St. Jude informed Sorin it intended to take the depositions of Dr. Caldeira and Dr. Jimenez; Sorin's counsel objected. (Id., Ex. E.) On September 22, 2016, St. Jude filed a motion for an order granting leave to take Dr. Caldeira's and Dr. Jimenez's depositions. (Def.'s Mot. for Leave to Take the Trial Deps. of Dr. Caldeira and Dr. Jimenez (“Mot. to Depose”), Sept. 22, 2016, Docket No. 174.) The Magistrate Judge orally denied St. Jude's motion, indicating a written order would follow. (Decl. of JoLynn M. Markison (“Markison Decl.”), Ex. A at 35-36, Oct. 26, 2016, Docket No. 192.) St. Jude filed objections to the Magistrate Judge's order denying St. Jude's motion prior to the Magistrate Judge issuing a written order. (Def.'s Objs., Oct. 26, 2016, Docket No. 191.)

         The Magistrate Judge filed a written order denying St. Jude's motion on November 2, 2016. (Order (“Magistrate Judge Order”), Nov. 2, 2016, Docket No. 241.) The Magistrate Judge found, as relevant to this appeal: (1) the Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4) standard applies to the consideration of this motion; (2) St. Jude failed to meet this standard because it acted with a “palpable” lack of diligence in attempting to take Dr. Caldeira's and Dr. Jimenez's depositions; and (3) Sorin would be prejudiced if the Court permitted St. Jude to take Dr. Caldeira's and Dr. Jimenez's depositions this close to trial. (Id. at 19-23, 29.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court will affirm the Magistrate Judge's decision to deny St. Jude's motion.

         ANALYSIS

         I. ...


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