Updated 4:43 p.m.
After a London court recently ruled against 3M Corp., the company is now turning its attention to a defamation suit it filed against Washington lobbyist Lanny Davis.
The London court ruled (PDF) Monday that 3M must pay $1.3 million in damages for failing to develop an infectious disease test kit for the U.S. market called BacLite.
Justice Nicholas Archibald Hamblen found that 3M was “in material breach of its obligation” after the company failed to develop a U.S. test for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a strain of staph bacteria resistant to antibiotics commonly used to treat the infection. The technology was originally developed by the Porton Group and the U.K. Ministry of Defense, which sold the technology to 3M in 2007. 3M, which was contractually required to develop the technology for the U.S. market, abandoned production of BacLite in 2008.
“I am delighted that we have been vindicated in our attempt to force 3M to face up to their responsibilities,” Porton Group CEO Harvey Boulter said in a statement.
But despite the court-ruling, 3M was declaring victory after the court rejected the claimants’ request for $40 million in damages.
“This judgment reaffirms what 3M believed all along – that it acted appropriately in attempting to market this product, and ultimately deciding the product was not commercially viable,” Maureen Harms, 3M assistant general counsel and general counsel for the company’s healthcare business, said in a statement. “The outcome of this trial confirms our decision to cease our support for BacLite.”
The Minnesota-based company is now focusing on its suit against Davis, who represents Boulter. 3M had filed a defamation suit (PDF) against Davis for allegedly disparaging comments he made in connection with the BacLite case. In court documents filed last week, 3M accuses Boulter and Davis of trying to extort $34 million from 3M to settle the BacLite case.
“With the London matter now successfully resolved, 3M is anxious to press forward with its claims against Mr. Boulter and his affiliates,” William Brewer III, partner at Bickel & Brewer and counsel for 3M, said in a statement.
Davis had previously filed an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss the defamation case. In response, 3M filed a motion to dismiss the special motion citing that D.C. lacked the authority to enforce the anti-SLAPP law. Since then, Davis’ attorneys filed a motion to stay proceedings. D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan has filed a consent motion (PDF) to intervene and defend the district’s law and takes “no position on the merits of any parties’ claims."
"It is not surprising that the District of Columbia Attorney General is stepping into the 3M lawsuit to defend the District's anti-SLAPP law,” Raymond Mullady Jr., Blank Rome partner and lead counsel for Lanny J. Davis & Associates, said in a statement. “3M's attack on the free speech law, if successful, would ensure the return of meritless and costly lawsuits by plaintiffs like 3M who want to intimidate and suppress public discussion about matters of public interest."