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Institute claims victory in civil suit against Judy Mikovits

Judy Mikovits has lost a civil lawsuit filed by her former employer, the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease (WPI) in Reno, Nevada.

The laboratory was seeking return of laboratory notebooks, a computer and other materials it claims Mikovits possessed. Judge Brent Adams of Washoe County, Nevada, Court ruled in favour of the WPI on 19 December, according to the court docket.

In a statement, the WPI’s lawyer, Carli West Kinne of SNR Denton, said: “At yesterday’s civil hearing, the Honorable Brent Adams found that Dr. Mikovits’ degree of non-compliance with the court’s orders was willful and deliberate without justification. Consequently, the judge entered a default judgment in favor of Whittemore Peterson Institute and also awarded the Institute attorney’s fees. Most importantly to the Institute, today’s ruling requires immediate return of all misappropriated materials.”

Mikovits was fired from her job in late September for refusing to share a cell line with another WPI researcher. According to affidavits filed by the WPI’s lawyers, she then directed a researcher in her former lab to remove laboratory notebooks from her office. Mikovits was arrested in California on 18 November and spent four nights in jail, before being later charged in Nevada with possessing stolen material. That criminal case is still pending.

The WPI filed its civil case on 4 November seeking return of the lab notebooks, a computer and flash drives, as well as access to private e-mail accounts she used. Judge Adams issued an injunction preventing Mikovits from altering or distributing the materials on 22 November.

The WPI recovered some of its material before the latest ruling, but a spokeswoman for SNR Deton, Audrey Young, says that Mikovits’s own laboratory notebooks have not been returned.

“We’re pleased with the Judge’s decision that all of the Whittemore Peterson Institute’s property should be returned. We hope to receive the Institute’s property and put this matter behind us as soon as possible,” Annette Whittemore, president of WPI, said in a statement.

Nature has not yet heard back from Mikovits or her civil lawyer, Dennis Jones, but we will update this post when we hear anything.

For a full run-down, see Nature’s previous coverage of the case and Mikovits.

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Image: D. Calvert/AP/Nature


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