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Trial Set for BYU's Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim Against Pfizer


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1/1/2016
Jonathan Cooper
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After years of delays, BYU is finally getting its day in court on its claims that Pfizer breached its fiduciary duties to BYU, and wrongfully took BYU's intellectual property without paying for it, thereby breaching their research contract.
In sum, BYU alleges that Pfizer has failed to honor its obligations to pay BYU its rightful share of the royalties from the sales of its wonder-drug, Celebrex, which has been touted as a breakthrough in the treatment of arthritis, because it has successfully reduced pain and inflammation without the deleterious side effects common to other anti-inflammatories, such as gastrointestinal problems.
According to BYU's prepared statement, "The agreement was to share [the BYU professor's] discovery with the company and to share in any reasonable royalties that resulted from their collaboration,” BYU said in a prepared statement. “The company then used Dr. Simmons' work as a road map to develop the blockbuster drug Celebrex."
The case has now been set for trial at the end of May.
There is an interesting procedural caveat to this case, though.
Earlier in the lawsuit, the judge sanctioned Pfizer and its attorneys over $800,000 for their obstructionist conduct in the course of discovery. It will be interesting to see what role, if any, this earlier decision will play in the ultimate outcome of the case.


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