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8 June 2017Americas

Court sanctions EGT for violating protective order

A district court has sanctioned pharmaceutical company Errant Gene Therapeutics (EGT) and its counsel for violating the court's protective order.

The motion for sanctions was filed by New York-based Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research (SKI) in November last year at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

SKI had filed a second motion for sanctions and to hold EGT’s lawyers in contempt of court for alleged additional violations of the court’s protective order in February.

But although the court granted SKI’s motion for sanctions, it did not certify the matter for contempt.

The case arose back in 2015 when EGT filed a complaint against SKI. The parties had collaborated on research into treatment for hemoglobinopathies, which are blood disorders, but EGT complained that SKI had failed to undertake the research as agreed.

The parties negotiated a protective order and submitted briefs which were to be considered as for “attorneys’ eyes only” as the information exchanged was confidential.

In June 2016, the court held an oral argument on the issues and ruled that SKI’s proposed protective order would operate as the parties’ interim protective order until a final order was issued by the court.

The court issued an opinion and order granting SKI’s proposed “attorneys’ eyes only” approach as the research, development and commercial information dealt with was “highly confidential”.

SKI alleged that EGT violated the court’s protective order through filing a complaint in September 2016 against Bluebird Bio using information which it gained from the “attorneys’ eyes only” disclosure.

EGT contended that no “attorneys’ eyes only” or confidential information was disclosed in its complaint against Bluebird.

It claimed that all the factual allegations came from a publicly filed complaint.

The court ordered that EGT and its attorneys must refrain from further misuse of the “attorneys’ eyes only” and confidential information obtained in this case.

It also ordered EGT to pay SKI's reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs of bringing these two motions for sanctions.

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