Dr. James Quinn, a professor of surgery and emergency medicine at Stanford University, was accused of stealing trade secrets while working as a consultant for Chemence Medical Products Inc., (Chemence Medical). An Atlanta jury recently ruled in Dr. Quinn’s favor, and found that the company’s lawsuit against him was in bad faith. The jury awarded Dr. Quinn $8.7 million for commissions that Chemence Medical had failed to pay him.
Chemence Medical is a subsidiary of Chemence Inc., a company that manufactures industrial glues. Chemence Medical manufactures and distributes surgical glues and other medical adhesives. Dr. Quinn testified at trial that he had begun developing surgical glues and conducting trials prior to working for Chemence Medical. He explained that these proved to be extremely effective suturing techniques—less painful for patients, and more efficient for physicians. He described his process as being revolutionary in the treatment of wounds. According to Quinn, this is why Chemence sought his help with their effort to secure approval for their medical adhesives from the FDA.
However, after working as a consultant for Chemence Medical for seven years, Chemence filed a lawsuit against Dr. Quinn, claiming that he breached his contract with them. Dr. Quinn filed a countersuit against Chemence, alleging that they failed to pay him promised commissions. Chemence had been paying Dr. Quinn $4,000 per month, in exchange for 2.5 to 7.5 percent of the gross margins of each medical adhesive and liquid bandage that he helped the company develop, improve, or market. In exchange, Dr. Quinn assigned his patent rights in several medical adhesive products to Chemence. In his counterclaim, Dr. Quinn claimed that Chemence never actually paid him any commissions despite the fact that the products he helped Chemence develop were extremely lucrative.
In 2011, after seven years of working together, Dr. Quinn sought an accounting of the unpaid commissions. This led him to realize that Chemence had no intention of paying him. Consequently, he terminated his contract with the company. Chemence then sued him for misappropriating trade secrets by providing confidential information to a competitor, among other allegations. Although Dr. Quinn admitted to having contact with the competing company, he only forwarded them a physical sample of a surgical adhesive.
Dr. Quinn’s counsel argued to the jury that Chemence failed to keep accounting records that would allow for calculation of his commissions, and that the company should have provided him with an accounting as his commissions began to accrue. According to Dr. Quinn’s lawyers, he is a wonderful person and inventor who has worked hard to advance medical science for the good of the public, and was wrongly accused by Chemence. He was deeply relieved by the jury’s verdict. Chemence has stated that it intends to file post-trial motions in an effort to set aside the jury verdict and schedule a new trial, or obtain a directed verdict for Chemence.
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