SAN DIEGO, August 2, 2023 – A San Diego jury today awarded more than $39 million to a doctor turned whistleblower who was fired by UCSD. The jury sided with Dr. Kevin Murphy in his civil wrongful termination and retaliation civil trial against the UC Regents and UC San Diego in San Diego Superior Court.
The trial revolved around a $10 million gift for research at UCSD. The 55-year-old doctor alleged that the university diverted the funds to the Moores Cancer Center without his consent. When he came forward as a whistleblower to report this misconduct, he faced severe retaliation and, ultimately, termination. UCSD declined to renew Dr. Murphy’s contract in 2020.
The UC Regents and UC San Diego filed a counter-claim against Dr. Murphy. The jury awarded just over $67,000 in that claim.
Dr. Murphy's unique approach, PrTMS (Personalized Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), is believed to offer more beneficial outcomes than existing treatment options for various conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, concussions, and autism.
An extraordinary gesture of confidence in his work came from one of his patients, who donated $10 million to support clinical trials on PrTMS. This sizable donation became the subject of contention between Dr. Murphy and UCSD.
While Dr. Murphy insists that the funds were intended for his research projects, university administrators argue that he violated their policies and utilized the money to benefit his businesses.
"Throughout this trial, we've painstakingly highlighted the stark contrast between the defendant's deception and Dr. Murphy's unwavering commitment to truth and justice. We firmly believe that the jury now understands the egregious injustice that he has faced," said lead trial attorney Mark Quigley.
The former department vice chair and esteemed oncologist at UC San Diego, has persistently asserted for the past seven years that the University of California attempted to steal a $10 million fund designated for his research. When he decided to speak out against these irregularities, he claimed that top officials initiated a public smear campaign against him, which has escalated.
Dr. Murphy faced a formidable opponent, the University of California, which, as a massive revenue-generating entity, enlisted an extensive team of attorneys to defend against his claims. Moreover, the university initiated its lawsuit against Dr. Murphy, accusing him of fraud and misusing university funds for personal gain.
The court consolidated the two lawsuits into one colossal eight-week trial, with both sides seeking millions of dollars in damages.
During the court proceedings, Dr. Murphy testified about the detrimental impact of his conflict with the institution on his professional and personal life. The situation has negatively affected his career trajectory, finances, personal relationships, and businesses supporting his innovative brain stimulation treatments.
"I was just getting to the height of my career when this all went down," Dr. Murphy testified during the trial.
Despite the adversities faced, Dr. Murphy remains the Chief Executive Officer of PeakLogic, the company spearheading the development of the PrTMS algorithm, with the ultimate goal of securing approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Throughout the trial, Dr. Murphy remained steadfast in his beliefs, stating that he has no regrets about coming forward with his complaints about UCSD, despite the setbacks it has caused for him and his businesses. "I did the right thing and would do it again," he said.
"Dr. Murphy is the epitome of a whistleblower who had the courage to expose corruption within the institution he dedicated his career to. This verdict reveals the truth behind UCSD’s attempts to retaliate and defame him for simply doing the right thing," said Quigley.
The plaintiff's legal team is led by partners Mark Quigley and Ivan Puchalt with Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP. The Los Angeles law firm has recovered billions of dollars for clients in California and nationwide.