Michael E. Patunas (1967-2018)

This is a very difficult post to write.  Michael E. Patunas was my colleague at Lite DePalma Greenberg, LLC for more than fifteen years.  He was my partner for a good portion of that time.  Mike died, too young, on August 30, 2018.

This is an appellate law blog, so it’s necessary to cite appeals in which Mike was involved.  They included In re Grant of Charter to Merit Preparatory Charter School of Newark, 435 N.J. Super. 273 (App. Div. 2014), and Kos Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Andrx Corp., 369 F.3d 700 (3d Cir. 2004).  Appellate work was not a large part of Mike’s practice.  But unlike many lawyers today, Mike’s experience spanned many diverse disciplines, ranging from transactional work to maritime law, from municipal land use to class action cases to patent litigation.

For the past fifteen years, Mike was best known for his work as New Jersey counsel in pharmaceutical patent litigation in the District of New Jersey.  He often represented Teva Pharmaceuticals and other generic pharmaceutical firms in patent infringement or “pay for delay” antitrust cases.

Mike did not have an extensive scientific background, but scientific knowledge was not what he brought to his cases.  Instead, Mike provided his extensive knowledge of New Jersey practice and procedure, including Local Patent Rules that the District of New Jersey adopted earlier in this decade, and his familiarity with the judges in our District.

There are those who demean local counsel as “seat warmers.”  Mike was anything but that.  Prominent attorneys at the nation’s biggest and most prestigious law firms, representing major clients in big-dollar, high-stakes litigation, turned to Mike for invaluable advice and assistance in their cases.  A team player in cases whose scope demanded teamwork, whether in motion practice or at lengthy trials, Mike always delivered, and he earned a large amount of repeat business.

Apart from his legal skills, Mike was a good guy.  Though quick with a joke, his understated delivery often masked, for a brief second, the fact that he had said something very funny.  And he was very devoted to his wife, Jill, their four children, and his sizable extended family.

Mike was a proud graduate of Villanova University (B.A., Political Science, 1988) and the Seton Hall University School of Law (J.D. 1991).  He had many professional successes, and he was a longtime member of the Board of Directors of the Historical Society of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.  He appeared on the “Super Lawyers” list in 2010 and 2018.

Though his work was almost exclusively in New Jersey, Mike spoke in Taipei, Taiwan, as an invited panelist at the U.S. Patent Linkage Seminar, sponsored by the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office.  His topics included United States patent litigation in general, Hatch-Waxman litigation and the evolving “pay for delay” cases stemming from settlements of Hatch-Waxman matters, as well as the complexities of Local Patent Rules in United States courts.  A kid from Northern New Jersey held forth on a stage half a world away.  As Mike would say, “Nice!”

Everyone who knew Mike will miss his friendship and his professionalism.