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On November 7, 2011, ALJ Robert K. Rogers, Jr. issued Order No. 17 in Certain Muzzle-Loading Firearms and Components Thereof (Inv. No. 337-TA-777).  The Order denied a motion filed by Complainants Thompson/Center Arms Co., Inc. and Smith & Wesson Corp. (collectively, “Thompson”) for leave to serve two days late their responses to requests for admission served by Respondents Blackpowder Products Inc. and Dikar Sociedad Cooperativa Limitada (collectively, “BPI”).

Thompson argued that its responses to BPI’s requests for admission were due October 11, 2011, but that it served responses on October 13, 2011, due to additional time being required to prepare the parties’ proposed claim constructions, which were also due October 11.  Pursuant to BPI’s request, Thompson was also preparing a supplemental response to BPI’s Interrogatory No. 1 regarding the application of a doctrine of equivalents analysis to accused products, which purportedly was interrelated to the requests for admission, and “additional time was required to form a complete response helpful to his Investigation, the parties, and such complete response will reduce costs and time and increase efficient resolution of the issues hereof.” 

BPI opposed Thompson’s motion, stating in opposition that Thompson’s motion violated Ground Rules 1.8, 3.2, and 4.1, and that Thompson had not shown good cause for an extension of time, and therefore, BPI’s requests should be deemed admitted.

ALJ Rogers first determined that under Commission Rule 210.31 and Ground Rule 4.4.4, requests for admission are deemed admitted unless an answer or objection is served within ten days after service of the requests.  ALJ Rogers next determined that Thompson’s motion did not comply with Ground Rule 3.2, which requires certifying that a moving party contacted other parties at least two business days prior to filing a motion, to make reasonable good-faith efforts to resolve the matter.  The ALJ determined that Thompson violated Ground Rule 3.2 by first giving notice of its intent to file the motion on the day of filing.  ALJ Rogers further determined that Thompson’s motion violated Ground Rule 1.8, which requires extensions of time to be filed at least one day before the due date, and that good cause for such extension must be shown.  Instead, the ALJ determined that Thompson’s motion was filed two days after the due date, and no good cause for an extension was shown, because (1) one is not entitled to extensions of time “merely due to the press of other work,” and (2) the supplemental response to BPI’s Interrogatory No. 1 was determined not to be sufficiently interrelated to the requests for admission, since the requests for admission were limited solely to literal infringement, and Interrogatory No. 1 was concerned with the doctrine of equivalents.  Finally, the ALJ determined that Thompson violated Ground Rule 4.1, which requires the parties to make intensive efforts to facilitate and resolve discovery disputes without intervention of the Judge, which the ALJ found lacking due to the unexplained delay in requesting the extension, and the non-compliance with Ground Rule 3.2.  ALJ Rogers stated: “Such blatant disregard for the Ground Rules is unacceptable,” and based on the above denied Thompson’s motion and determined that BPI’s First Set of Requests for Admission to Thompson are deemed admitted.
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