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Home / Verdicts & Settlements / Eight-figure settlement reached in defamation suit — $16M settlement

Eight-figure settlement reached in defamation suit — $16M settlement

Type of action: Libel

Injuries alleged: Loss of reputation

Name of case: Eshelman v. Puma Biotechnology, Inc.

Court: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina

Case no.: 7:16-cv-0001

Name of judge or mediator: Judge James C. Dever III

Date resolved: 11/5/2022

Verdict or settlement: Settlement

Amount: $16,000,000

Attorneys for plaintiff (and city): Megan L. Meier and Daniel P. Watkins, Alexandria; Andrew McVey, Wilmington, North Carolina

Description of case: In February 2016, North Carolina resident Fredric Eshelman filed a defamation suit against California-based Puma Biotechnology, Inc. After the court found that Puma’s statements about Eshelman were defamatory per se, on March 15, 2019, a jury found that Puma’s defamatory statements were false and had been made with actual malice and awarded Eshelman $15.9 million in compensatory damages and $6.5 million in punitive damages. On June 23, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the liability verdict and remanded the case for a retrial on damages.

Days before the scheduled retrial on damages, Puma agreed to pay Eshelman $16 million pursuant to a Nov. 5, 2022 settlement agreement.

Daniel P. Watkins, counsel for plaintiff, provided case information.