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The $78 million that a federal court jury in Miami awarded a Florida pharmaceutical firm validated its claims that a California drug company and an Arizona private investigation firm stole its trade secrets and tried to destroy its business. The jury, which added $30 million in punitive damages last week to its recent award of $48 million in actual damages, also cast a cloud over the license that Arriva Pharmaceuticals Inc., the California company, claims it has to the patent. That patent involves manufacturing processes for drugs that are designed to treat hereditary emphysema and numerous skin diseases. The company that had owned the patent was founded by co-developers Allan Wachter, who licensed it to Arriva, and John Lezdey and his sons, who founded a new company, AlphaMed Pharmaceuticals. The Lezdeys were forced out of Arriva. AlphaMed Pharm. v. Arriva Pharm., No. 03-20078 (S.D. Fla.). ‘Garbage spoke for itself’ The jurors made their feelings known, writing in answer to an unfair competition special interrogatory, “The ‘garbage’ spoke for itself.” Lezdey and his sons had wondered how the other side in their heated patent dispute knew their every move. The jury found that Spinelli Investigations, the other defendant, had gathered confidential and proprietary documents by means that included dumpster diving. Spinelli is owned by a former FBI agent who hires only other former agents. [NLJ, 4-19-04]. Another allegation the jury found true was that the defendants had wrongfully instigated an FBI investigation against the Lezdeys, which scared off a potential investor. Spinelli was only sued for misappropriation of trade secrets, which resulted in a nominal award of $1. Spinelli’s attorney, Steven Eisenberg of Miami’s Feldman Gale, said that his client has not decided if it will take further action. Arriva’s attorney, Jonathan Goodman of Akerman Senterfitt’s Miami office, refused comment while he has pending motions for a new trial, a mistrial and for judgment as a matter of law. Douglas Rovens of the Los Angeles office of Minneapolis-based Zelle, Hofmann, Voelbel, Mason & Gette, and James McDonald of the Miami office of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, took over the case for AlphaMed on a contingency-fee basis.

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