Trana Discovery, Inc. v. Southern Research Institute, No. 17-2136 (4th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Trana, a developer of technology that could help find new drugs to treat HIV, filed suit against Southern, a contract research organization, for fraud and negligent representation. Trana alleged that Southern failed to identify certain promising compounds as potential HIV treatments (false negatives results) and Southern falsely identified other compounds as potential treatments when in fact they were not (false positives results).
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Southern, holding that Trana's false negatives theory represented an attempt to shoehorn a claim for professional negligence or breach of contract into one for negligent misrepresentation. Furthermore, in regard to the false positives theory, Trana has not presented any theory that explains the reasonableness of pursuing patents on compounds that it knew had no commercial value. Therefore, Trana's reliance on the false positives was unreasonable.