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Life Technologies Denies Allegations Made by Former Visigen CEO

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - Life Technologies has denied all allegations in a lawsuit that former Visigen Biotechnologies CEO and Co-founder Susan Hardin filed in October 2009 against Life Tech, its Invitrogen unit, and Visigen, alleging breach of contract, fraud, negligent representation, and breach of fiduciary duty regarding Invitrogen's 2008 acquisition of Visigen, according to GenomeWeb Daily News sister publication In Sequence.

According to court documents, Hardin, and several unnamed Visigen stakeholders for whom she is serving as representative, are seeking a jury trial and are asking for at least $55 million in actual damages and at least $250 million in exemplary damages, as well as suit costs and attorneys fees.

Invitrogen purchased Visigen, which was developing a real-time single-molecule sequencing technology based on fluorescence energy resonance transfer, in August 2008 for approximately $21 million in cash.

In a petition filed with the District Court of Harris County, Texas, in October 2009, Hardin, on behalf of the other Visigen stakeholders, claimed that Life Technologies has failed to honor certain "material promises" it made as part of the merger agreement. The document does not provide details about the nature of these promises.

According to the petition, "Life knew that the promises made to Dr. Hardin were of extreme importance to Dr. Hardin and the Visigen stakeholders" and that they "did rely on these material statements made by Invitrogen (Life) in deciding to sell Visigen to Life."

In its response to the petition, filed on Jan. 11, 2010, Life Technologies denied all allegations. In addition, the firm asked the court to dismiss Hardin's claims, and to order her to amend the petition to state a maximum amount of damages sought.

A Life Technologies spokesperson declined to comment further this week, noting that the company does not comment on pending litigation.

A more detailed version of this article has been published this week in GWDN sister publication In Sequence.

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