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Punitive Damages Illumina Owes for Wrongful Termination Grossly Excessive, Appeals Court Says

NEW YORK, Dec. 7 (GenomeWeb News) - Illumina stands to save $3.3 million in assorted legal costs after a judge last week said that punitive damages sought in a wrongful-discrimination suit by a former Illumina chief science officer were "grossly excessive," Illumina said today.

 

The San Diegohigh-throughput genotyping-instrument company said it expects to record a one-time gain of $3.3 million, but it will still have to pay $5.9 million in myriad legal fees, including $2.2 million in punitive damages for the wrongful-termination suit.

 

An Illumina spokesperson said it was not immediately clear when Illumina will record the one-off amount, and that no actual money has been spent or saved because of the likelihood that the plaintiff may still appeal the decision.

 

The decision to limit the punitive damages was made in a Dec. 3 ruling by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Diego.

 

As GenomeWeb News reported in 2002, Illumina was told to pay at least $7.7 million in damages and litigation expenses in connection with a jury verdict for wrongfully terminating co-founder and former chief scientific officer Anthony Czarnik.

 

Czarnik sued Illumina for wrongful termination in March 2001, in California Superior Court. At the time, Illumina said it would take the $7.7 million charge on its second-quarter 2002 financial statement.

 

"We believe that this termination was lawful in all respects and that the verdict was unsupported by evidence presented at the trial. The Company plans to vigorously defend its position on appeal," Jay Flatley, Illumina president and CEO, in a statement at the time.

 

Illumina had $66.5 million in cash and investments as of Sept. 30.

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