Articles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation

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The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of South Carolina law to the South Carolina Supreme Court. Sarah Hartsock was killed in an automobile crash on Interstate 26 in Calhoun County, South Carolina. Her personal representative, Theodore Hartsock, Jr., brought a survival and wrongful death action asserting claims under South Carolina law for negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty. Hartsock alleged that the vehicle in which Mrs. Hartsock was riding was struck head-on by another vehicle. That vehicle had crossed the median after suffering a blowout of an allegedly defective tire that Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America Ltd. and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company [collectively "Goodyear"] designed, manufactured, and marketed. The federal court had subject-matter jurisdiction based upon complete diversity of citizenship between the parties and damages alleged to be greater than $75,000. During pretrial discovery a dispute arose between the parties over certain Goodyear material relating to the design and chemical composition of the allegedly defective tire. Goodyear objected to producing this material, asserting that it constituted trade secrets. The district court eventually found, and Hartsock did not dispute, that the material did, in fact, constitute trade secrets. However, the court ordered Goodyear to produce the material subject to a confidentiality order. In doing so, the court applied federal discovery standards, rejecting Goodyear's contention that South Carolina trade secret law applied. The federal appellate court asked the South Carolina Supreme Court whether South Carolina recognized an evidentiary privilege for trade secrets. The South Carolina Court responded yes, but that it was a qualified privilege. View "Hartsock v. Goodyear" on Justia Law

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Appellant Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals (Janssen) manufactured the antipsychotic drug Risperdal. The Attorney General of South Carolina believed that Janssen had violated the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act (SCUTPA) by engaging in unfair methods of competition by willfully failing to disclose known risks and side effects associated with Risperdal. In 2007, the State and Janssen entered into a tolling agreement concerning the statute of limitations. The State filed its Complaint on April 23, 2007: the first claim arose from the content of the written material furnished by Janssen since 1994 with each Risperdal prescription (the "labeling claim"); the second claim centered on alleged false information contained in a November 2003 Janssen-generated letter sent to the South Carolina community of prescribing physicians (the "Dear Doctor Letter"). Because both claims arose more than three years prior to January 24, 2007, Janssen pled the statute of limitations as a bar to the Complaint. The matter proceeded to trial. A jury rendered a liability verdict against Janssen on both claims. The trial court rejected Janssen's defenses, including the statute of limitations, finding that both claims were timely. Janssen appealed. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the liability judgment on the labeling claim but modify the judgment to limit the imposition of civil penalties to a period of three years from the date of the tolling agreement, which was coextensive with the three-year statute of limitations, subject to an additional three months by virtue of the time period between the January 24, 2007, tolling agreement and the filing of the Complaint on April 23, 2007. The Court affirmed the liability judgment on the doctor letter claim, but remitted the amount of penalties associated with that claim. View "South Carolina v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals" on Justia Law