On July 30, 2019, TrialSite News covered in depth the complex history of Errant Gene Therapeutics and the actions that led to its present court case, Case 150856/2017, Errant Gene Therapeutics vs. Sloan Kettering. At the time of this publication, the small, Chicago-based biotech venture Errant Gene Therapeutics, LLC (EGT) was engaged in a court battle against a well-funded biotech called Bluebird Bio and a venture capital firm known as Third Rock Ventures. The allegations included breach of contract, tortious business interference, and fraud. We summarized publicly available information, including court records; and in less than a month, our article has received over 1500 views and numerous communications from those interested.
Even Patrick Girondi, founder of EGT, commented on the article, saying, “I really appreciate the story. It’s amazing what’s public. Unfortunately, in many ways, the industry has been highjacked by greed. Mine is only one of many stories.” TrialSite News feels honored to have received this appreciation from Girondi regarding our portrayal of what appears to be a raw and true manifestation of capitalistic rapacity and its ripple effects.
Dedicated to transparency and the accessibility of relevant industry information, we’ve decided to provide a follow-up on the case. EGT won the latest battle in this ongoing legal war against Bluebird and Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research (“SKI”) for cancer research. As reported by Business Wire, “the New York Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager sanctioned Bluebird Bio, Inc. (“Bluebird”) and rejected Bluebird’s efforts to prevent EGT from proceeding with its lawsuit in Massachusetts against Bluebird CEO Nick Leschly and Bluebird’s venture capital partner, Third Rock Ventures, LLC (“TRV”). Following the court’s decision, EGT served its complaint in Massachusetts yesterday, August 20, 2019, against Leschly and TRV.”
Provided below is a transcript summary (in italics) of the court proceedings held on August 19th. Please note the following individuals as well:
- EGT (plaintiff) attorneys = Murphy and Sussmane
- Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research (SKI) and Bluebird Bio, Inc. (defendant) attorneys = Eilender and Allen
- Greenberg Taurig (drafted offending Complaint) attorney = Barrett
Bluebird attorney Eilender contends that EGT attorney Sussmane filed a Third Complaint partly based on emails by Leshley (Third Rock) wherein Leshley and Third Rock ordered Bluebird to “shut down EGT and say whatever was necessary to obtain EGT’s data”. Thereafter, on 3 occasions, Bluebird met with SKI and its scientists to obtain EGT’s secrets in order to misrepresent that they had a “bonafide intent to financially support the research and development of EGT Vector”.
Eilender contends that said emails were produced either by SKI or by Bluebird under Protective Orders.
Eilender quotes from the Third Complaint written by Sussmane: “In order to hide his role in the secret agreement and the tremendous conflict of interest that he was ignoring, Thompson used SKI Board committee member, Tony Evnin, as a go-between to communicate between Third Rock and Bluebird about the secret meeting with SKI to illegally halt clinical trials of EGT Vector, to take possession of EGT’s technology, eliminate Bluebird’s competition and eliminate the threat to the investments of Thompson’s partners on Agios.”
When asked, Sussmane claimed that the allegation in the Third Complaint was not based on just the email from Leshley, but also on interrogatories Leshley swore to in this case. Eilender asked that they put aside the interrogatories and asked if the email that discussed this conspiracy was designated “confidential.”
Sussmane then states that none of the allegations were ever mentioned in the Massachusetts Complaint, nor provided to the Massachusetts counsel, nor to those entitled to this information, so the confidential information was not used in violation of the Confidentiality Order.
Barrett, attorney for Greenberg Taurig, was asked if he used or had knowledge of confidential information when drafting the Third Complaint. He said he did not.
After an hour and a half, the judge ruled that Bluebird did not prove that EGT used confidential information in the Third Complaint, therefore dismissing the contempt case and sanctioned Bluebird $25,000 for wasting the courts time.
In regard to the court’s decision, Mr. Girondi stated that “EGT is very pleased by the New York court’s rulings on Monday. EGT believes that it has suffered in excess of a billion dollars in damages as a result of Leschly’s and TRV’s actions, and intends to vigorously pursue its claims and hold Leschly and TRV fully accountable.”
Mr. Girondi is truly a David in the battle against this biopharma Goliath. As Mr. Girondi explains in his comment on our July publication, “Stealing and sabotage has become a norm. Court fights go on for years and usually, he who has the least resources loses, regardless of right and wrong. White-collared crime is protected by corporations. This all encourages dishonesty and costs patients lives. One of the funny tragic things is how they rifle graft and shady deals into research cost and then say how much was invested…” In dealing with this firsthand, it is no surprise to hear such an honest and eye-opening opinion.
With the intention to provide clear and thought-provoking knowledge, TrialSite News will continue to be an avenue for the truth of the world’s clinical research sector. This is just one of many stories that should capture the hearts of patients and families as they navigate the unavoidable, confusing, and potentially daunting world of clinical research.