Vivera Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announces the re-filing of its defamation lawsuit against USA Today and parent companies Gannett Co., Inc. and Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC (“Gannett”). Vivera is represented by leading law firm Byrd Campbell, P.A., and former US Congressman Alan Grayson.
In June 2021, USA Today published a defaming article about Vivera and its CEO, Paul Edalat. The piece was littered with inaccuracies about the Company’s products and personal attacks on Edalat’s professional reputation. Vivera first filed suit in 2021, with a trial date slated for December 2022. During the original litigation proceedings, USA Today and Gannett filed two demurrers, which the Court overruled, determining that Gannett may be found liable for defamation, defamation per se, and tortious interference.
After engaging with Gannett in the discovery process, Vivera learned that journalist David Heath and his co-author Kevin McCoy, along with Gannett senior editor Amy Pyle, intended for readers to draw the conclusion that Vivera – and by extension Edalat – were unreliable and had no business developing COVID-19 testing.
Vivera asserts that during deposition testimony, Heath and McCoy testified that they knew statements made about Edalat in the article would falsely imply that Vivera was an unethical company. Documents obtained during discovery show that Pyle and co-editor Steve Myers instructed their reporters to ‘cite the craziest stuff’ and to ‘make the examples work,’ actions that Vivera alleges show a reckless disregard for the truth.
Tucker H. Byrd of the law firm Byrd Campbell, P.A. said, “The litigation against USA Today has been like a prize fight. In the first round, the parties had exchanged legal blows, and Vivera’s original claim had been scheduled for trial during a very narrow window of time during the Christmas holiday in December 2022. Rather than rush through a holiday trial, we elected to step out of line, so to speak, as was our option, and re-file the Complaint for a second round. This allowed Vivera to augment its Complaint, highlighting the mountain of evidence that had been discovered in the first round of this litigation, most of which came from the lips of USA Today’s own people, and will afford more time to present the evidence at trial. With the sound of the bell, though, we’re now ready to go.”
With over 39 years of legal experience, Mr. Byrd has represented many of the world’s largest companies and financial firms. He is an expert in business litigation before courts, juries, and arbitrators and will utilize his multifaceted background to lead the legal strategy of the case.
“We made the tactical decision to re-file the case as the original trial date was scheduled for the four days before Christmas,” said Paul Edalat, Chairman and CEO of Vivera, regarding the dismissal and re-filing of the litigation against Gannett. “The deposition testimony that came to light was truly shocking. It is as if USA Today wanted clickbait, not the truth. Journalism is an important part of our society, but we cannot simply let blatant attacks and false information go unchallenged.”
When asked about why Vivera is fighting this matter so vigorously, Edalat stated, “Vivera was working on a ‘secret mission’ with the White House and Dr. Peter Navarro’s office to bring COVID-19 test manufacturing back to the United States. When the entire country was at home, the team at Vivera was in the office working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We exhausted the efforts of our entire team working around the clock to turn around in less than six weeks what takes others six months. When this article was published, we were devastated. Our team’s hard work was immediately destroyed. Out of all the interviews we did during the early days of the pandemic, we believed USA Today had an agenda, and now we know they did.”