Federal Lawsuit Dismissed Between Pfizer and Former San Diego Employee

The company had alleged the worker violated company policy and downloaded thousands of files containing medical research

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New court filings show Pfizer and a former employee accused of downloading sensitive files asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit Wednesday, and their request was granted.

In November, NBC 7 reported the company accused former employee Chun Xiao Li of downloading thousands of the company's files to a personal account, some of which contained trade secrets and confidential information.

In the initial filing, Pfizer asked the court to order Li to cooperate in the investigation. That included an order, which was granted, not to share confidential information or trade secrets, not to destroy or manipulate the files, not to destroy or throw away any devices that may have contained the files and to hold onto any hard copies of the information.

Pfizer claimed some of the documents Li saved to her Google Drive account contained medical research on its COVID-19 vaccine, monoclonal antibodies and more. The complaint claims she initially cooperated with the investigation, but then notified Pfizer she was resigning from the company.

NBC 7 Investigates spoke with Li in November. She declined an on-camera interview but said she never meant to download the files and had since deleted them. Li also refuted claims that the documents contained medical research.

Pfizer sent NBC 7 Investigates the following statement in November:

"Pfizer is investigating and pursuing civil action against an employee who we believe improperly downloaded thousands of documents before a planned exit from the company. Pfizer takes the safeguarding of sensitive and confidential information very seriously. Protecting that information is critical to scientific innovation, ultimately enabling us to deliver breakthroughs for patients."

NBC 7 reached out to Pfizer, its attorneys and the lawyer who represented Li to ask if a settlement was reached, and to get a statement on the lawsuit. We will update this story as that information becomes available.

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