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Court Says It Won't Bar Web Sites From Publishing Leaked Eli Lilly Documents

But the judge did order those who leaked them to return the documents and not disseminate them further.
A federal judge last week acknowledged something many companies have learned the hard way: When bad news gets on the Web, there's no stopping it.

The ruling involves confidential internal documents dealing with the anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa. The leaked documents were written about on a number of Web sites, foremost the New York Times, which broke the story. The judge said the documents must be returned to Eli Lilly & Co. and barred a doctor and lawyer responsible for leaking them to the news media from distributing them.

But U.S. Eastern District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein rejected Lilly's request to ban Web sites from publishing the documents, since that could amount to the court "attempting to control a constantly expanding universe of those who might have, or will have, access by reason of the original breach," the ruling states. "That such an amplified injunction could be enforced effectively is doubtful."

The Lilly documents were part of litigation over claims that the drugmaker's inadequate warning led to obesity and diabetes in Zyprexa users. The court ordered the documents sealed as part of a settlement, in which Lilly has paid out more than $1.2 billion.

One of the people involved in obtaining and leaking the documents, James Gottstein, testified he made them available electronically to "get them out [in a] way that would make it impossible to get them back."

Mission accomplished--although Gottstein and others can still face penalties for violating the protective order.