The U.S. Department of Justice announced on May 31, 2012 that the large medical device manufacturer St. Jude Medical Inc. has agreed to pay the United States $3.65 million to settle civil claims made against it under the False Claims Act (commonly referred to as whistleblower claims, or more formally, qui tam actions).
The federal civil action alleged that St. Jude Medical Inc. inflated the cost of replacement pacemakers and defibrillators that had been purchased from it by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Defense. More specifically, it was alleged that St. Jude Medical Inc. marketed its pacemakers and its defibrillators by emphasizing that the devices that needed to be replaced under warranty would result in substantial credits but that St. Jude knowingly failed to provide the appropriate credits in many cases that resulted in inflated invoices issued to V.A. hospitals and DOD military medical treatment facilities for replacement devices.
The matter came to light when two whistleblowers filed a federal lawsuit under the False Claims Act in federal court in Massachusetts. The whistleblowers will receive $730,000 as their share of the recovery, as provided by the False Claims Act (qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act allow private citizens to bring civil actions in the federal courts on behalf of the United States and share in a portion of the recovery).
In announcing the settlement, the Department of Justice’s Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division stated, “If medical device manufacturers are actively concealing warranty credits from the government, the department will use all the tools at its disposal to hold them accountable.”
Agencies and departments of the U.S. government should not be allowed to become the victims of fraudulent or otherwise questionable practices by medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, or any other entity that provides goods or services to the United States, just like private companies would not stand for becoming the victims of such practices. The False Claims Act provides a mechanism and incentive to private individuals who become aware of wrongdoings that affect the U.S. to bring federal claims on behalf of the Untied States in the federal courts that then allows the U.S. to investigate the claims and take over the prosecution of the claims, if it appears to investigative agents of the U.S. that it should do so. In this manner, the U.S. may recover a portion of the amounts that it overpaid or should not have paid in the first place.
If you are aware of possible false claims having been submitted to the United States that resulted in inappropriate or fraudulent payments having been made, you may become a whistleblower and you may be entitled to share in a portion of the recovery that results from your assistance in obtaining justice for the United States.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be willing to assist you with a qui tam claim (a whistleblower claim) for which you may be entitled to receive a portion of the monetary recovery.
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