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Whittemore Peterson Institute seek millions in damages from fired researcher

Sunday 4 March 2012


From the Reno Gazette-Journal:


ScalesWhittemore Peterson Institute seek millions in damages from fired researcher

Written by Martha Bellisle

Now that a judge has ruled in favor of the Whittemore Peterson Institute in a civil case against a researcher who took a laptop, notebooks and files after she was fired, the two sides are fighting over damages.

The Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease made world headlines in 2009 after Dr. Judy Mikovits lead a team that discovered a new retrovirus that could help treat chronic fatigue syndrome. But the research was discredited last year and Mikovits lost her job. The institute claimed she stole important research materials when she left, a claim she denied.

But Washoe District Judge Brent Adams signed a default judgment last month in favor of the institute, saying Mikovits failed to comply with his rulings on releasing materials in the case.

A hearing on damages is expected this week. The institute is seeking millions in salary and research costs as well as lost donations, while Mikovits’ lawyer, Dennis Jones, said her actions did not cause any harm.

Criminal charges against Mikovits are pending, said her criminal lawyer, Scott Freeman.

“At this point, Ms. Mikovits has returned all of the materials that she had in her possession and they all are in evidence in the criminal case,” Freeman said. “The only reason the civil case was filed was because she didn’t give them up fast enough. But she has turned everything over.”

Meanwhile, the institute is defending itself against two lawsuits filed by the Wingfield Nevada Group, owned by Harvey Whittemore’s former partners. The suits claim the institute owes Wingfield $1.7 million for using its staff and a company jet.

The lawsuits are just three on a list that Whittemore has been fighting in recent weeks. His former partners, Tom and Albert Seeno Jr. of Concord, Calif., claim he embezzled funds from Wingfield, while Whittemore claims in another suit that the Seenos are guilty of racketeering. Two banks also sued Whittemore for millions in unpaid loans. And a federal grand jury is reportedly meeting Wednesday to hear testimony on Whittemore’s campaign contribution activities.


The above originally appeared here.



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