Justia Communications Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Drugs & Biotech
In re HIPAA Subpoena
The First Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment reversing the magistrate's order that had quashed an administrative subpoena duces tecum as to the recordings of certain telephone conversations, holding that the magistrate judge clearly erred in finding that Appellants met their burden of proving that an employer's interception of the telephone calls was intentional.When investigating whether Patient Services, inc. (PSI) had engaged in an illegal kickback scheme, the Government issued an administrative subpoena duces tecum to PSI for all recorded conversations of PSI officers and employees. This appeal concerned conversations that were recorded on the extension of Karen Middlebrooks. Middlebrooks's telephone conversations were recorded while she was working in PSI's call center on the second floor where calls were regularly recorded. At issue was whether PSI intentionally continued recording Middebrooks's calls after her transfer to the third floor, where calls were not regularly recorded, in violation of Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act. The magistrate judge ruled that the recordings violated Title III. The district court reversed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the magistrate judge clearly erred in finding that Appellants met their burden of proving that PSI's interception of calls from Middlebrooks's extension after her move to the third floor was intentional. View "In re HIPAA Subpoena" on Justia Law
Eli Lilly and Co. v. Arla Foods USA, Inc.
Arla, a Denmark-based global dairy conglomerate, launched a $30 million advertising campaign aimed at expanding its U.S. cheese sales, branded “Live Unprocessed.” The ads assure consumers that Arla cheese contains no “weird stuff” or “ingredients that you can’t pronounce,” particularly, no milk from cows treated with recombinant bovine somatotropin (“rbST”), an artificial growth hormone. The flagship ad implies that milk from rbST-treated cows is unwholesome. Narrated by a seven-year-old girl, the ad depicts rbST as a cartoon monster with razor-sharp horns. Elanco makes the only FDA-approved rbST supplement. Elanco sued, alleging that the ads contain false and misleading statements in violation of the Lanham Act. Elanco provided scientific literature documenting rbST’s safety, and evidence that a major cheese producer had decreased its demand for rbST in response to the ads. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the issuance of a preliminary injunction, rejecting arguments that Elanco failed to produce consumer surveys or other reliable evidence of actual consumer confusion and did not submit adequate evidence linking the ad campaign to decreased demand for its rbST. Consumer surveys or other “hard” evidence of actual consumer confusion are unnecessary at the preliminary-injunction stage. The evidence of causation is sufficient at this stage: the harm is easily traced because Elanco manufactures the only FDA-approved rbST. The injunction is sufficiently definite and adequately supported by the record and the judge’s findings. View "Eli Lilly and Co. v. Arla Foods USA, Inc." on Justia Law
Hardin v. PDX, Inc.
Hardin suffered complete blindness and permanent, severe and painful scarring after she took Lamotrigine, the generic form of the medication Lamictal. Hardin sued the prescribing physician, the manufacturer, the store where she bought the prescription (Safeway), WKH, which produced the drug information pamphlet (monograph), and PDX, a software provider that distributes drug information to pharmacy customers. Unlike physician package inserts and patient medication guides, which are FDA-mandated, WKH monographs are not regulated or reviewed by the FDA, but are produced as part of a self-regulating action plan required under 110 Stat. 1593. The WKH monograph was the only information received by Hardin when she first filled her prescription for Lamictal. The abbreviated warning used by Safeway and provided to Hardin omitted the “Black Box” warning: “BEFORE USING THIS MEDICINE” that stated: “SERIOUS AND SOMETIMES FATAL RASHES HAVE OCCURRED RARELY WITH THE USE OF THIS MEDICINE. Hardin says that had she been provided this warning, she would not have taken the medication. WKH moved to strike Hardin’s claims against it under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16, the “anti-SLAPP” (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation ) statute.. The trial court ruled that WKH’s production of drug monographs was protected speech concerning a public issue or an issue of public interest and that Hardin had no probability of prevailing because she could not establish that WKH owed her any duty. The court denied PDX’s motion to strike, finding that the activity underlying PDX’s alleged liability was the reprogramming of its software to permit Safeway to give customers an abbreviated, five-section monograph that omitted warnings instead of the full eight-section version that included those warnings. The court of appeal affirmed. View "Hardin v. PDX, Inc." on Justia Law
Tang Capital Partners LP, v. Norton
Plaintiffs are holders of Savient’s 4.75% convertible senior notes due in 2018, which are unsecured and subject to the terms of an indenture. Collectively, Plaintiffs own a face value of $48,709,000, approximately 40% of the outstanding Notes. Defendants are members of Savient’s board of directors USBNA serves as trustee for the Indenture governing the Notes. Following dismal sales of its new drug, KRYSTEXXA, Savient’s Board approved a financing transaction to exchange some existing unsecured Notes for new senior secured notes with a later maturity date. Through the Exchange, Savient exchanged around $108 million in Notes, raised around $44 million in new capital, and issued additional SSDNs with a face value of approximately $63 million. Like the Notes, the SSDNs are subject to an indenture for which USBNA serves as trustee. Plaintiffs sought a declaration that Savient was insolvent and brought derivative claims alleging waste and breach of fiduciary duty in connection with the Exchange Transaction; alleged breach of fiduciary duty and waste claims in connection with the Board’s approval of retention awards for certain Savient executives. The chancellor dismissed the receivership claim for lack of standing and granted a declaration that an Event of Default has not occurred.View "Tang Capital Partners LP, v. Norton" on Justia Law
ONY, Inc. v. Cornerstone Therapeutics, Inc.
Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking damages and injunctive relief, alleging that defendants violated, inter alia, the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a)(1), and New York General Business Law 349 when defendants published a scientific article reporting research results related to plaintiff's production of surfactants. The court concluded that, as a matter of law, statements of scientific conclusions about unsettled matters of scientific debate could not give rise to liability for damages sounding in defamation. The court also concluded that the secondary distribution of excerpts of such an article could not give rise to liability, so long as the excerpts did not mislead a reader about the conclusions of the article. Therefore, the district court correctly concluded that plaintiff failed to state a claim based on publication of the article itself because the challenged statements were protected scientific opinion and plaintiff failed to adequately allege that defendants Chiesi and Cornerstone distributed misleading excerpts of the article. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "ONY, Inc. v. Cornerstone Therapeutics, Inc." on Justia Law