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California Must Pay Sanction In Pharma Antitrust Suit

 |  January 2, 2022

A Pennsylvania federal judge ordered California to pay nearly $80,000 in legal fees to Par Pharmaceutical Inc for failing to comply with discovery obligations in multidistrict litigation alleging a broad price-fixing conspiracy for generic drugs.

In her court order, US District Judge Cynthia Rufe in Philadelphia called the attorneys’ fee award, sought by Par’s lawyers at Williams & Connolly, an “appropriate discovery sanction” for California’s “continued intransigence” in not abiding by obligations to turn over information. Rufe declined to block California from presenting evidence in the litigation, which Par had sought.

Williams & Connolly associate Brian Gilmore in Washington, DC, a lawyer for Endo International subsidiary Par, had urged the court on Dec. 1 to award about $104,000 in legal fees as a penalty against the California Attorney General’s Office. He said the fee request applied a 10% discount to his standard $850 hourly billing rate.

Fee sanctions against state and federal governments for alleged discovery violations are rare. The court-appointed special master who recommended a sanction said earlier this year “some strong and clear action was needed in order to resolve this dispute.”

California is a member of a multistate coalition in the MDL, which involves allegations that defendant pharmaceutical companies participated in a scheme to fix and maintain prices for certain drugs. Defendant companies have denied wrongdoing.

The US Justice Department separately is conducting an ongoing criminal investigation of price-fixing claims in the generic pharmaceutical industry.

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