Byron Brandt sued Unilife last November, a month after a pair of Forbes articles accusing Unilife of a raft of FDA and SEC violations pushed UNIS shares down 14% in a single day. The lawsuit accuses the drug delivery device maker and its senior managers of misleading investors about a key contract with pharma giant Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) and about the FDA status of 1 of its manufacturing plants.
Those accusations were spurred in part by another lawsuit filed by an ex-employee who made similar allegations. Unilife is contesting that lawsuit, saying it turned down a settlement offer and moved to dismiss 1 of the 3 claims made by Talbot "Todd" Smith, who was employed by Unilife as vice president, integrated supply chain from September 2011 to August 2012. Smith claims wrongful termination; Unilife claims he was slated to be let go anyway a part of a series of layoffs, according to court documents.
"As previously reported, the class action lawsuit was always considered to be frivolous and based mainly on the meritless allegations made by a former employee of the company," Unilife said today in a statement.
The Forbes articles last year prompted CEO Alan Shortall to go on the offensive, labeling the magazine’s pieces as "malicious" and "vindictive."
"I perceive both articles as a vindictive attack on me personally as well as the company and all of its followers and supporters," Shortall said at the time.
Since then Unilife has put up a string of wins, announcing supply deals with several pharmaceutical players, including an exclusive deal with Novartis (NYSE:NVS); a 15-year, $40 million supply deal with British drug maker Hikma Pharmaceuticals (LON:HIK); a similar pact with Medimmune, AstraZeneca’s (NYSE:AZN) biologics arm; a pact for its Ocu-ject eye drug delivery system with an unspecified company; and the long-term contract with Sanofi.
UNIS shares were trading at $4.77 apiece as of about 3:20 p.m. today, down 1.0%.