FDA v. California Stem Cell case update

FDA v. California Stem Cell case update

Honestly, I lost interest in this case after the federal judge in the Florida US Stem Cell case granted summary judgement to the FDA and issued a permanent injunction barring the use of the stem cell/SVF product, which is basically the same stuff used by the California group. I assumed that the California federal judge would agree with the Florida judge. I am still making that assumption, but I did learn a few interesting things from my cursory review of the summary judgment papers which have been filed. Also, I heard some misinterpretations of what has recently happened in the case, so I thought it might be helpful to set people straight.

The Schedule

In federal court, the parties propose an initial schedule which is accepted, rejected or modified by the court. It is everyone’s rough guess of how long it will take to get to a trial. But things change. It is extremely common for scheduling orders to be revised, meaning deadlines and trial settings are pushed back, by months, or many months, and there are sometimes several successive revisions to scheduling orders.

In this case, the Government complied with the then current scheduling order and filed its motion for summary judgment in early July. The judge took a quick look at the papers, and he probably reviewed the docket in the Florida stem cell case. On his own, he pushed back the hearing on summary judgement to December. That meant the original trial date had to be put off as well.

The judge ordered to parties to meet and confer and come up with a new trial date and other deadlines. The parties couldn’t agree on much. Interestingly, the Defendants asked for a quicker hearing than the judge ordered December hearing, because of the uncertainty and resulting financial problems the case was creating for the defendants’ business. The judge declined, and set the trial date in February 2020.

That was fine for the Government because it is not expecting there to be a trial, based on its view of the law, and its recent summary judgement win in the US Stem Cell case on similar facts.

The fact that the trial date has been pushed back until February 2020 has no legal significance because 1. As stated, trials get put back all the time in federal cases, and 2. The Government (and most likely the judge) doesn’t think there will be a trial.

What I learned from the Government’s Summary Judgment Papers

Caveat: because of the press of other business, I only took a quick look at the papers. My impression was the Government’s papers were very similar to the papers it filed in the US Stem Cell cases. However, the papers did relate two facts which I was not aware of.

First, in 2018 the Government obtained a court order seizing the company’s toxin laced stem cell/SVF vacinia product, based on a finding that the product was misbranded. It is unlikely that this judge will reach a different result, on that product at least. The people who make misbranded products get injunctions issued against them for producing misbranded drugs.

Second, the company is (or had been) expanding some of its patients stem cells. I don’t get it. We know from appellate authority in the Regenerative Sciences case that is illegal. These two facts make a much stronger case for the Government than the facts in the Florida case. Here is the Government’s Motion for Summary Judgment (without the declarations and exhibits)

What I learned from the Defendants’ Summary Judgment Papers

While I thought the Government’s papers in this case were basically the same as what it filed in the Florida case, I think the defense papers in this case are much stronger than in the Florida case. Same firm in both cases, but different lawyers.

Don’t get me wrong, the Florida defense papers were perfectly fine, well written and extremely competent. However, I think the California summary judgment papers presented a more compelling defense, notwithstanding the fact that they had some bad facts to deal with. (Lander’s declaration states that they are not doing these two bad things anymore, or hadn’t as of the date of the FDA’s complaint). The California defense also had the advantage of their clients being actual board-certified surgeons, rather than the morons in Florida who thought it was a good idea to have a nurse practitioner inject people’s eyeballs with stem cells. Still, I thought the California papers were excellent and told a very compelling story. Hats off to the defense team.

Here is the Defendants’ Summary Judgment Response, and the principal declarations:


I really liked the expert report attached to the attorney’s affidavit. I do not recall if it was submitted in the Florida case. If it was, it made alot more sense here since the defendants are surgeons and make a better case for a surgery exception, than in Florida case where (I presume) NP’s are not licensed to practice surgery.

Will the Defense’s excellent papers make a difference?

The defense has some very bad facts to overcome (expansion of cells, and using a toxin in a product which has been determined by a judge in the same district to a misbranded drug), and the recent US Stem Cell decision dealing with a product which is closer to being FDA compliant under applicable law.

So, despite, the excellent job on the papers by defense counsel, as an old Louisiana friend of mine used to say: “You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken [explicative deleted].” And that’s about how I see it. We’ll have the answer probably mid-to late January, 2020.

Rick Jaffe, Esq.

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