Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Greenberg v. Miami Children’s Hospital Research Institute case brief

Greenberg v. Miami Children’s Hospital Research Institute case brief summary
264 F.Supp.2d 1064 (2003)

Plaintiffs, a group of individuals and non-profit institutions, sued defendants, a researcher, a hospital, and a research institute, alleging breach of informed consent, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, fraudulent concealment, conversion, and misappropriation of trade secrets. Plaintiffs opposed the commercialization of the fruits of defendants' research. Defendants filed motions to dismiss on all of the claims.


The court declined to extend the duty of informed consent to cover economic interests, where the plaintiffs were more accurately portrayed as donors rather than objects of human experimentation. As to the breach of fiduciary duty claim, the court found that plaintiffs had not sufficiently alleged the second element of acceptance of trust by defendants.


  • The court further held that defendants' attempt to seek refuge in the endorsement of the U.S. Patent system, which gave an inventor rights to prosecute patents and negotiate licenses for their intellectual property, failed, as obtaining a patent did not preclude defendants from being unjustly enriched. 
  • The fraudulent concealment claim failed because the bare contention that the intent to patent was fraudulently concealed was not sufficient, as this intent was not accompanied by any time and place details. 
  • Second, there was no duty of disclosure to plaintiffs, as there was no fiduciary relationship with defendants. 
  • The court also declined to find a property interest for the body tissue and genetic information voluntarily given to defendants, so the conversion claim failed. 
  • The misappropriation of trade secrets also failed.

The motions to strike were granted as to all the claims except unjust enrichment.

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