Sanofi-aventis Wins Dismissal of Securities Lawsuit

September 25, 2009

On September 25, United States District Judge George B. Daniels granted Cleary Gottlieb client and defendant sanofi-aventis and numerous individual executives’ motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ securities lawsuit. Plaintiffs purported to represent a class of all individuals and entities that purchased sanofi securities from March 1, 2005 through June 13, 2007. Plaintiffs’ claims related to sanofi’s attempt to develop and market an obesity drug known as “rimonabant,” which the FDA rejected on June 13, 2007.

Judge Daniels held that “a majority of the allegedly misleading statements identified in the complaint were unactionable statements of opinion or forward-looking statements made within the ’safe harbor’ provision of the securities laws.” Judge Daniels also held that Plaintiffs failed to identify a material omission sufficient to state a securities fraud claim, because they failed to identify any safety data that was omitted from sanofi’s public disclosures. In addition, Judge Daniels held that Plaintiffs had also failed to establish defendants had both motive and opportunity to commit fraud, noting that “generalized motive” is insufficient to establish scienter and that Plaintiff’s proffered motive regarding sanofi’s profit woes and pipeline problems could be ascribed to any pharmaceutical company awaiting approval from multiple authorities.