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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

AMC: Global Health Woos Clients, Lawsuit

With the decision by one medical clinic to woo potential customers to which it was earlier forbidden access by a court order, the legal battle between Moscow's two biggest and best-financed Western medical operations has taken a new turn.

U.S. Global Health last week started to solicit some of the Western firms on a list of 177 companies covered by an injunction issued by a North Carolina judge last year, U.S. Global Health general manager James Gerwin said Monday.

The injunction had been issued following claims by the American Medical Center that U.S. Global Health workers had unlawfully obtained trade secrets from AMC and sought to steal the AMC clients.

AMC's president, Dennis Sokol, said Monday that his firm planned by Wednesday to file a motion to hold U.S. Global Health in contempt of court. "They have gone against the court and that will piss the judge off," said Sokol. "The fact of the matter is that the injunction is still in place."

U.S. Global Health, however, claims that the injunction is no longer valid because North Carolina Judge D. Marsh McLelland, citing procedural reasons, last month dismissed the claims on which the injunction was based.

"It is our legal position that we are free to market to anybody in Moscow and we are doing so," said Gerwin, who declined to detail which Moscow firms had been approached by the clinic's sales staff.

From a business perspective, Gerwin said, "We hope it makes a big difference. This whole lawsuit from the very beginning was without foundation. The AMC bought eight months of time when we weren't allowed to attack the cream of the market."

Gerwin said he had no estimate of how much potential revenue may have been lost because of the injunction. AMC lawyer Garret Rasmussen said Judge McLelland had specifically refused in hearings in January and February to decide whether or not to lift the injunction because U.S. Global Health, for strategic legal reasons, never requested it.

According to excerpts from a court transcript -- provided by AMC -- Judge McLelland said at a Feb. 1 hearing, "I'm not signing an order dissolving the injunction."

Rasmussen said that U.S. Global Health is "obviously overreaching here. It is clear that they are inviting a legal showdown."

If AMC does file a motion to hold U.S. Global Health in contempt of court, the judge will likely hear their request within the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, U.S. Global Health and PepsiCo, the soft-drink giant which owns part of the clinic, still face an AMC lawsuit accusing them of racketeering through the theft of trade secrets.

Judge McLelland's dismissal of the initial lawsuit, from which the injunction stemmed, has been appealed by AMC to the North Carolina State Court of Appeals. A decision is expected by the end of the year.

Sokol said PepsiCo had recently contacted AMC about settling the legal tussle through mediation, which is typically faster than going to trial.

U.S. Global Health's latest move, however, was not a good sign, Sokol said.

"This isn't showing that these are people who want to put something to bed," he said.

Gerwin, who was planning to arrive in Moscow from New York on Tuesday, was not available for a response Monday evening.