|3 Months Ended|
Oct. 31, 2022
Note 12 – Contingencies
The Company has brought cases in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware (“the Court”), alleging patent infringement against various companies. In 2017, the Court ruled that the asserted claims of the ’180 and ’405 Patents are invalid for nonenablement in cases involving Abbott, Becton Dickinson, Gen-Probe, Hologic, and Roche. That ruling was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) in June 2019. Enzo subsequently filed a petition for certiorari regarding the invalidity ruling for the ’180 and ’405 Patents in February 2020; the Supreme Court denied Enzo’s petition on March 30, 2020.
The Company, along with its subsidiary Enzo Life Sciences, Inc., resolved its claims against Roche regarding the ‘197 Patent before the Court (civil action No. 12 cv-00106) in July 2022. There is currently one case that was originally brought by the Company that is still pending in the Court. In that case, Enzo alleges patent infringement of the ‘197 patent against Becton Dickinson Defendants. The claims in that case are stayed.
In separate inter partes review proceedings before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) involving, among others, Becton Dickinson, certain claims of the ’197 Patent were found unpatentable as anticipated or obvious and cancelled by the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (“Board”). Enzo appealed that decision to the Federal Circuit. On August 16, 2019, the Federal Circuit affirmed the Board’s decision, finding that each of the challenged claims is unpatentable. The Company filed a petition for rehearing and rehearing en banc on October 30, 2019, which the Federal Circuit denied on December 4, 2019. The Company filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court on March 3, 2020, which was denied.
In April 2019, the Company entered into an agreement with Hologic and Grifols, resolving litigation resulting from four cases originally brought by the Company in the Court. As a result, Enzo dismissed (1) a stayed patent litigation regarding the ’180 and ’197 Patent against Hologic in the Court; (2) the Consolidated Appeals against Gen-Probe and Hologic resulting from two cases filed in the Court, and (3) the Company’s appeal in the litigation involving the ’581 Patent that involved both Hologic and Grifols. As a result of the agreement with Hologic, Hologic withdrew from Enzo’s Federal Circuit appeal of the Board’s adverse rulings in the inter partes review proceedings regarding the ’197 Patent filed by Hologic and joined by Becton Dickinson mentioned above.
On September 2, 2021, the PTO issued a non-final office action in an ex parte reexamination concerning the ’197 Patent. In the office action, the PTO rejected certain claims of the ’197 Patent under 35 U.S.C. §§ 102 and 103, and for nonstatutory double-patenting. Enzo responded to the office action on January 3, 2022, and the proceeding remains pending. Becton Dickinson requested another ex parte reexamination concerning the ’197 patent on July 26, 2022. On September 16, 2022, the PTO ordered that ex parte reexamination as to certain claims of the ’197 patent and has not yet issued an office action. Enzo filed a petition to terminate that second reexamination proceeding on November 16, 2022.
On February 5, 2020, Harbert Discovery Fund, LP and Harbert Discovery Co-Investment Fund I, LP (“HDF”) brought an action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against the Company and five of its present or former Directors, Dr. Elazar Rabbani, Barry W. Weiner, Dr. Bruce A. Hanna, Dov Perlysky and Rebecca Fischer. On March 26, 2020, HDF filed an amended complaint against the same defendants. Count I asserted the Company violated Section 14(a) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 14a-9 thereunder by disseminating proxy materials that made purportedly false statements. Count II asserted a claim against the individual defendants under Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act premised on Enzo’s purported violation of Section 14(a) and Rule 14a-9. Count III asserted the individual defendants breached their fiduciary duty, based on the same conduct and by seeking to entrench themselves. Finally, Count IV purported to assert a derivative claim for a declaration that any amendment to Article II, Section 2 requires the approval of 80% of Enzo’s shareholders. On July 16, 2020, the day before the defendants’ motion to dismiss was due, HDF asked the Court to dismiss their claims without prejudice. Defendants asked HDF to dismiss the claims with prejudice, but they refused. On July 17, 2020, the Court dismissed the claims without prejudice.
On November 27, 2020, the Company brought an action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against Harbert Discovery Fund, LP, Harbert Discovery Co-Investment Fund I, LP, Harbert Fund Advisors, Inc., Harbert Management Corp. and Kenan Lucas (together, “Harbert”). The Company alleges Harbert made false and misleading representations, or omitted to state material facts necessary to make their statements not misleading, in proxy materials they disseminated seeking the election to the Company’s Board of Directors at its 2019 Annual Meeting of two candidates they nominated, in violation of Section 14(a) of the 1934 Exchange Act and Rule 14a-9 thereunder. The Company seeks damages and injunctive relief. On October 12, 2021, HDF filed nine counterclaims against the Company and present and former directors Dr. Elazar Rabbani, Barry W. Weiner, Dr. Bruce A. Hanna, Dov Perlysky, Rebeca Fischer, Dr. Mary Tagliaferri and Dr. Ian B. Walters. HDF claims the Company made false and misleading representations in proxy materials it disseminated in connection with its 2019 Annual Meeting, in violation of Section 14(a) of the 1934 Exchange Act and Rule 14a-9 thereunder, and that the Company’s directors at that time are liable under Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act for the Company’s purported misstatements. HDF also claims that current and former Company directors breached their fiduciary duties by taking four corporate actions: (a) adjourning the 2019 meeting for 25 days; (b) purportedly causing the two Harbert candidates for director, who were elected at the 2019 Meeting, to resign in November 2020; (c) authorizing the November 27, 2020 Lawsuit; and (d) not accepting Dr. Rabbani’s resignation as a director in March 2021. On November 10, 2021, the Company and the other counterclaim defendants moved to dismiss HDF’s counterclaims. On December 9, 2021, the court granted the motion to dismiss HDF’s counterclaims except HDF’s Section 14(a) claim against the Company concerning its statement that it intended to “delay” the 2019 Annual Meeting, and HDF’s Section 20(a) and breach of fiduciary duty counterclaims against Dr. Elazar Rabbani, Barry W. Weiner, Dr. Bruce Hanna, Dov Perlysky and Rebecca Fischer with respect to that statement. The Court allowed HDF to move for leave to replead with respect to its dismissed counterclaims. On June 7, 2022, the Court “so ordered” a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice of the Company’s claims against Harbert Discovery Fund, LP, Harbert Discovery Co-Investment Fund I, LP, Harbert Fund Advisors, Inc., Harbert Management Corp., and Kenan Lucas, and HDF’s counterclaims against the Company, Dr. Bruce Hanna, Dov Perlysky, Rebecca Fischer, Dr. Ian B. Walters and Dr. Mary Tagliaferri. The only remaining claims were HDF’s counterclaims against Dr. Rabbani and Mr. Weiner. HDF asked the Court to dismiss those claims without prejudice. Dr. Rabbani and Mr. Weiner asked the Court to dismiss those counterclaims with prejudice and to allow them to take discovery from HDF, the Company, and possibly others. On December 1, 2022, the court granted HDF’s motion for voluntary dismissal without prejudice, denied Dr. Rabbani and Mr. Weiner’s motion to compel discovery, and directed the Clerk of the Court to close this case.
There can be no assurance that the Company will be successful in any of these litigations. Even if the Company is not successful, management does not believe that there will be a significant adverse monetary impact on the Company. The Company is party to other claims, legal actions, complaints, and contractual disputes that arise in the ordinary course of business. The Company believes that any liability that may ultimately result from the resolution of these matters will not, individually or in the aggregate, have a material adverse effect on its financial position or results of operations.
As described in Note 3, third-party payers, including government programs, may decide to deny payment or recoup payments for testing that they contend was improperly billed or not medically necessary, against their coverage determinations, or for which they believe they have otherwise overpaid (including as a result of their own error), and we may be required to refund payments already received.
Former executives arbitration
The Company terminated the employment of Elazar Rabbani, Ph.D. the Company’s former Chief Executive Officer, effective April 21, 2022. Dr. Rabbani remains a board director of the Company. Dr. Rabbani is a party to an employment agreement with the Company, which entitles him to certain termination benefits, including severance pay, acceleration of vesting of share-based compensation, and continuation of benefits. Based on the terms of his employment agreement, the Company estimated and accrued a charge of $2,600 in fiscal 2022 which is included in Selling, general and administrative expenses. The charge was partially offset by the reversal of bonus accruals. In May 2022, the Company paid Dr. Rabbani $2,123 in severance (the payment constituted taxable income but the Company did not withhold taxes from the payment). In July 2022, the Company paid Dr. Rabbani’s income and other withholding taxes of $1,024 related to that payment on Dr. Rabbani’s behalf, which is included in “prepaid expense and other current assets” as of July 31, 2022, as the payment is reimbursable from Dr. Rabbani. Dr. Rabbani disputed, among other things, the Company’s decision to not award him a bonus for fiscal year 2021 and the amount of severance that was owed to him under his employment agreement. On July 8, 2022, the Company filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association (the “AAA”) seeking, among other things, a declaration that the Company has fully satisfied its contractual obligations to Dr. Rabbani and seeking the tax withholding reimbursement referenced above. On August 4, 2022, Dr. Rabbani filed counterclaims in the arbitration seeking, among other things, a bonus for fiscal year 2021 and additional severance that he asserts is owed to him. The parties have chosen an arbitrator from the AAA’s panel and a hearing is scheduled for June 8-16, 2023.
On February 25, 2022, Barry Weiner, the Company’s co-founder and President, notified the Company that he was terminating his employment as President of the Company for “Good Reason” as defined in his employment agreement. The Company accepted Mr. Weiner’s termination, effective April 19, 2022 but disagreed with Mr. Weiner’s assertion regarding “Good Reason.” On July 20, 2022, Mr. Weiner filed a demand for arbitration with the AAA asserting, among other things, that his annual bonus for fiscal year 2021 was too low and that his resignation (effective April 19, 2022) was for “Good Reason” under the terms of his employment agreement. He seeks, among other things, payment of a higher 2021 bonus, and severance payments and benefits. The parties have chosen an arbitrator from the AAA’s panel and a hearing is scheduled for July 18-21, and 24, 2023. As of October 31, 2022, the Company has not accrued any charges related to Mr. Weiner’s termination.
The entire disclosure for loss and gain contingencies. Describes any existing condition, situation, or set of circumstances involving uncertainty as of the balance sheet date (or prior to issuance of the financial statements) as to a probable or reasonably possible loss incurred by an entity that will ultimately be resolved when one or more future events occur or fail to occur, and typically discloses the amount of loss recorded or a range of possible loss, or an assertion that no reasonable estimate can be made.
Reference 1: http://www.xbrl.org/2003/role/disclosureRef