Medtronic Agrees to Settlement with Justice Department Over Whistleblower Lawsuit
The medical device manufacturer faced a whistleblower lawsuit that alleged the company paid doctors or gave them gifts in return for using Medtronic’s specific pacemakers and defibrillators.
As part of the whistleblower lawsuit settlement, Medtronic will not admit any wrongdoing. The lawsuit was unsealed earlier this week, and alleged that Medtronic gave “millions of dollars in unrestricted grant money to physicians” to encourage doctors to use the company’s brand of pacemakers or defibrillators.
The allegations against Medtronic were first raised in 2009 and asserted that the company paid doctors to speak at marketing events, offered them lavish vacations, and took them to expensive restaurants. The company also allegedly gave doctors tickets to sporting events as part of the campaign to push the Medtronic brand deeper into the market.
Medtronic has now paid $400 million to settle various whistleblower lawsuits filed since 2007.
“Decisions about devices used to treat cardiac rhythmic disease should be based on the best interests of the patient, not on whether the manufacturer is going to pay a kickback,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner in Sacramento, California, said in a statement.
Adolfo Schroeder, a former Medtronic employee, filed the whistleblower lawsuit against the company. As part of whistleblower lawsuit regulations, Schroeder will receive $1.7 million from the settlement money.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Bring a Whistleblower Suit?
Technically, no. As a practical matter, absolutely.
In order for a qui tam lawsuit, or whistleblower lawsuit, to succeed, a lawsuit must be filed with the federal government. While a person could file a qui tam case without a lawyer, such a case is unlikely to be as successful as it would be if an attorney is involved. Due to the volume of qui tam cases filed with the U.S. Justice Department (over 300 cases per year since 1996), and the limited number of Justice Department lawyers working on them, only those cases that are well presented with strong evidence are likely to be joined by the federal government. Your attorney’s primary responsibility is to help you shape the case and present it to the Justice Department.
While the U.S. Justice Department only joins about 25% of qui tam cases, the cases it does participate in are settled or won over 85 percent of the time. If the Justice Department declines to join your qui tam case, the odds of success drop to 20 percent. While this does not make the suit impossible, it does emphasize the importance of using an attorney from the beginning to present the government with the strongest case possible.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help Protect Whistleblowers with the False Claims Act
The False Claims Act, also known as the Whistleblower Act or a qui tam lawsuit, is intended to encourage people to come forward with information and assist the government in stopping the waste of Government funds.
Common whistleblower actions include:
- Medicare fraud,
- defense contractor fraud, and
- other kinds of fraud.
If you are personally aware of a fraud that has been committed by your current or former employer, a competitor or otherwise, contact the Qui Tam attorneys at the Strom Law Firm today for a no cost consultation to discuss the facts of your case and whether filing a whistleblower lawsuit may be appropriate. We understand the complexity of the False Claims Act, and can help you with your case. We offer free, confidential consultations so contact us for help today. 803.252.4800.