Once-promising biotech startup Renaissance RX has fired back against a breach-of-contract lawsuit, alleging that the work of a New Orleans native who had a brief stint performing “chief marketing officer-type services” showed that she was “far from the ‘perfect candidate’ ” to take on the position full time.
In a Feb. 17 filing in Orleans Parish Civil District Court, Alison Diboll alleged that Renaissance promised her “a competitive salary, equity and other standard perks.” However, she claims her hiring was a ploy to help the firm obtain outside investment before it was stymied by a federal review into its government billing practices.
After she relocated from California, Diboll alleges that Renaissance RX executives kept delaying formalizing her contract until the company closed on its financing. At that point, Renaissance let her go, the suit claims.
Renaissance’s attorney, Steven Griffith, of New Orleans, said in a court filing Monday that Diboll’s lawsuit was “littered with innuendo and rumors.” Griffith noted that Diboll “already intended to move to New Orleans.” He said Renaissance only offered her “the opportunity to serve in a capacity similar to that of chief marketing officer on an independent contractor basis for a trial period of 30 days.”
“But Ms. Diboll proved anything but a good fit at Renaissance RX, and the relationship between the two was short-lived,” Griffith wrote.
The filing alleges that Diboll maintained an existing business during her stint at Renaissance and also launched a clothing line, which it states shows that Diboll “never intended — and certainly never did — dedicate her time and effort to working for Renaissance RX.”
Once seen as a post-Hurricane Katrina standout company, Renaissance RX grew from five employees in the New Orleans BioInnovation Center to nearly 800 nationwide.
The firm relied on genetic testing to help doctors tailor medications for individual patients. But almost all of its employees were let go amid a Medicare review that froze its primary revenue stream beginning in late 2014.
The federal review — considered a safeguard against fraud — cut off the company’s cash flow for its main effort, a 250,000-patient registry designed to catalog adverse drug effects and shed light on how patients respond to a particular dose regimen based on their genes. Medicare had committed to paying Renaissance as much as $600 for every patient participating.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.