Post-Gazette defends self from Mylan suit

Drugmaker sued paper over stories about warnings

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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday defended itself against a lawsuit filed by Mylan Inc., alleging that the pharmaceutical company is attempting to circumvent the First Amendment simply to figure out who among its own employees provided information to the newspaper.

Mylan Inc., and subsidiary Mylan Pharmaceuticals, filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Monongalia, W.Va., in August against the Post-Gazette and two reporters who wrote a story about an internal report regarding the company's Morgantown, W.Va., plant.

The report showed that over an extended period of time, employees had overridden computer-generated warnings about potential problems in the drug-making process.

The article also said that the company's quality assurance team concluded that no medications were compromised.

In the lawsuit, Mylan accuses the Post-Gazette of improperly obtaining confidential documents and misappropriating trade secrets.

However, in a number of filings made yesterday after the case was moved to federal court in the Northern District of West Virginia, the Post-Gazette denied those claims.

In one filing, attorneys for the newspaper said that all of the documents used in the July 26 story were obtained lawfully.

"In sum, the Post-Gazette did nothing wrong whatsoever -- not in obtaining information for publication and not in publishing."

It further says that the newspaper's work is entirely protected by the First Amendment.

"The Post-Gazette's article on the content of Mylan's internal report was meticulously accurate," one court filing said. "Indeed, Mylan concedes as much, since the complaint contains no cause of action alleging falsity or any other alleged wrong regarding the publication."

In a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the Post-Gazette accuses the company of ulterior motives, saying that it doesn't want to hold the newspaper liable but rather find out who among its employees served as sources for the article.

It says that Mylan "undertook a feverish hunt" to find those sources to no avail.

The Post-Gazette wrote in its filing that Mylan's effort to circumvent the Constitution "is doomed to fail."

The motion to dismiss names only Mylan Inc., saying that the parent company should not be a named plaintiff because only its subsidiary has standing to sue.

In the formal answer to the lawsuit filed on behalf of reporters Patricia Sabatini and Len Boselovic, attorneys asserted a number of affirmative defenses.

Those included that none of the information published is a trade secret and that Mylan has suffered no quantifiable damages as a result of the article.

However, in the lawsuit, the company said that the "sensationalized misuse of the documents caused harm to Mylan and its shareholders." It noted that it was the second-largest trading day in the company's history and that it suffered a decrease in its stock price.

An attorney for Mylan did not return a phone call yesterday evening seeking comment.


Paula Reed Ward can be reached at pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.


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