'What is wrong with you?' federal judge asks in order responding to lawyers' 'whiny letters'

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U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore. Photo courtesy of the United States District & Bankruptcy Courts of the Southern District of Texas.

A federal judge in Houston made no secret of her impatience with an old case on her docket in an order on discovery disputes last week.

U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore began her order this way: “The court is in receipt of the parties’ whiny letters. What is wrong with you parties/lawyers? Just STOP IT!” The Houston Chronicle, Quartz and Above the Law have coverage.

“This is my oldest and least favorite case,” Gilmore wrote. “Please stop trying to become my least favorite lawyers. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Gilmore issued her order in a patent infringement filed in 2011 by Align Technology, maker of Invisalign dental aligners, against ClearCorrect and related companies. As of Dec. 15, there were 249 docket entries in the case.

In a counterclaim, ClearCorrect said Align didn’t invent the plastic orthodontic devices, and it is entitled to a declaratory judgment that there was no infringement. The counterclaim states that Align’s claims are “lawyer-driven” and intended to protect market share.

Gilmore’s order addresses discovery issues, including a supplemental expert report and the need for additional depositions. The issues were raised in letters written by the Callier Law Group, representing a ClearCorrect company, and Smyser Kaplan & Veselka, representing Align Technology.

Both companies had asked Gilmore for an extension of time on motions. Additional law firms signing the request included Paul Hastings for Align Technology and Haltom & Doan and McClanahan Myers Espey for ClearCorrect.

Gilmore made clear the answer is no. “There will be no extension granted on the motion deadline—DON’T ASK,” she wrote.

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