SAN FRANCISCO — In closing arguments for Medivation Inc., lawyers at Latham & Watkins accused a UCLA researcher of cheating the pharmaceutical company out of a $1 billion prostate cancer treatment and asked a jury to award $15 million.
But on Friday, the jury in San Francisco Superior Court gave them far less: $406,917.
The panel found that UCLA chemistry professor Michael Jung had breached his stock option agreement with the San Francisco–based drug company. However, the jury rejected Medivation’s remaining claims for intentional misrepresentation and false promise.
Medivation had accused Jung, who was part of a sponsored research team, of concealing promising discoveries and using his position on Medivation’s scientific advisory board to gain inside knowledge of its business plans.
Latham partners James Lynch and Max Grant led Medivation’s legal team. Gregory Call of Crowell & Moring represented Jung.
Testimony during the month-long trial before Judge John Munter frequently veered into the chemical details of the compounds at the heart of the dispute—sometimes even down to the atom.
One Medivation witness, a USC cancer researcher, testified that he heard Jung say he stole the compounds from Medivation. Lynch and Grant reminded the jury in their closings that the UCLA chemist never denied the allegation. Call told jurors that his client said that in jest.
Medivation began funding the UCLA research in 2005 in exchange for the right to license promising molecules. The following year, Medivation chose to license one of those molecules, which it used to develop Xtandi, an FDA-approved prostate cancer treatment. Today the company is valued at $3 billion.
But Medivation said that Jung concealed two other promising compounds in violation of their agreement. In 2007 UCLA sold licensing rights to those compounds to Aragon Pharmaceuticals Inc., which sold the disputed compounds to Johnson & Johnson earlier this year for $1 billion in cash and contingency payments.
Along with Jung, Medivation also sued the UC Regents, Jung’s fellow researcher Dr. Charles Sawyers and Aragon. Medivation settled with Sawyers, and Munter dismissed its claims against the University of California and Aragon, leaving Jung as the sole defendant. Neither Lynch nor Call responded to interview requests on Friday.
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