Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Lasco's hard push in battle with Pfizer - Parties now await court’s assessment of damages

Published:Sunday | April 23, 2017 | 4:00 AM
Some of the many products offered by Lasco.

Lawyers representing local firm LASCO Distributors last week made an impassioned plea for the court to award compensation to the tune of US$311 million as the battle with international pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, moved closer to an end.

With both sides presenting closing arguments in the long-running assessment of damages case, LASCO lawyers had their turn at bat last Tuesday and they argued that there was established precedent for the level of damages, plus interest.

Lawyers representing Pfizer were scheduled to present their closing arguments last Thursday but these were not available to the media up to press time.

The matter arose from an injunction granted to Pfizer in 2005, which remained in effect until 2012 when the United Kingdom Privy Council upheld rulings by the local courts which favoured LASCO and another local firm, Medimpex.

 

PLEAS TO THE COURT

 

LASCO has asked the court to award it the US$311 million in damages, plus interest, but Pfizer has countered that the Jamaican entity should be paid no more than US$518,000 for the period it was not allowed to sell the drug.

In the case of Medimpex, Pfizer is asking the court to rule that it should not pay out more than US$68,000, instead of the US$11.5 million that the Jamaican firm is demanding.

LASCO, in documents filed in court, has said the amount being sought is to recover the money and interest it lost because of the Pfizer injunction, which prevented it from taking advantage of the lower-priced drug it offered to thousands of Jamaicans who were in desperate need of the cheaper medication to fight hypertension.

 

CLOSING ARGUMENTS

 

In closing arguments last week, lawyers for LASCO argued that: "The assessment is made upon the same basis as that upon which damages for breach of contract would be assessed if that undertaking had been a contract between the plaintiff and the defendant."

Pointed to legal precedent, the LASCO lawyers quoted from a British ruling: "The court is compensating for loss caused by the injunction which was wrongly granted. It will usually do so applying the useful rules as to the remoteness derived from the law of contract, but because there is no contract there has to be no room for exception.

"A defendant wrongly injuncted against should be compensated for losses that he should not have suffered, but a claimant should not be saddled with losses that no reasonable person would have foreseen at the time the order was made, unless the claimant knew, or ought to have known of other circumstances that was likely to give rise to the particular type of loss that occurred in the case at hand."

The presiding judge has reserved judgment on the matter.