PE Corporation, the parent company of Celera Genomics, is facing legal action from one of Celera's shareholders. The investor claims that information published by Celera misled him into losing money during the recent collapse in the company's share price. Both companies are dismissing the charge as baseless.

The class action lawsuit alleges that when PE Corporation was seeking investors in a ‘secondary offering’ at the end of February, it failed to disclose the existence of negotiations between Celera and principals in the public Human Genome Project (HGP).

If the case advances, it will investigate a tumultuous time in Celera's stock prices. On 29 February, the company sold 4.37 million shares at $225 each. For a week, the share price rose, peaking at nearly $260 a share.

But negotiations over a possible collaboration between Celera and the HGP on sequencing the human genome broke off about a week later. The impasse — and rancour behind it — soon became public and Celera's stock began slipping. The share price then plummeted on 14 March, triggered by media reports of a joint statement by US President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair backing the HGP's free information policy (see Nature 404, 324; 2000).

PE Corporation says it has done nothing wrong. “We feel that the suit is totally without merit,” says Lyn Christianson, a spokesperson for the company.