St. Jude Medical Inc. (“St. Jude”) recently agreed to a $16 million settlement for allegations that it was paying physicians and hospitals kickbacks for using its own products even when use of its own products may not have been in the patients’ best interests. St. Jude is the world’s second biggest maker of heart rhythm devices with sales of $4.68 billion in 2009. Charles Donigian (“Donigian”)originally filed the qui tam whistleblower lawsuit, before the government’s intervention, under the False Claims Act and will get $2.64 million of the settlement. Our Employee Whistleblower Attorneys have assisted many clients with whistleblowing and anti-kickback cases. Call (800) 893-9645 if you have witnessed any fraud in your workplace.
Donigian is getting his share of the government’s settlement with St. Jude under the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act which allows a private individual who has knowledge of fraud being committed against the government to bring an action on behalf of the government. If fraud is proven, the defendant is generally liable for 3 times the damages that the government sustained because of the fraud. The False Claims Act allows the whistleblower to share in the government’s recovery which can be anywhere between 10 – 30% of the total recovery. In order to share in the recovery, you must be the first person to bring the case to the government’s attention.
Donigian was a technical service specialist employee at St. Jude who observed the kickbacks and inducements. He was involved with the marketing of medical devices and managing paperwork for patients involved in the alleged fake research. He had detailed knowledge that St. Jude paid doctors about $2,000 a patient to induce them to prescribe its own products, including using its own pacemakers and defibrillators. The doctors then submitted reimbursement claims to Medicare and other federal programs.
St. Jude paid the doctors in the form of payments for research study. Donigian’s complaint alleged that the payments were kickbacks used to increase St. Jude’s sales of its devices over its competitors and not really for any real post market research. St. Jude also gave the doctors tickets to sporting events, gifts and other benefits.
Fraud and false claims against the government also amount to fraud against every taxpayer in this country. If you observe fraud being committed against the government, keep in mind that your taxpayer dollars are being stolen. On its own, the government can’t possibly uncover every fraudulent act being committed against it. It is only with the help of employees with honor and the courage, can the government learn of and stop fraudulent practices. Furthermore, the monetary reward of exposing fraud can amount to millions.
If you observe your company committing fraud against the government, our experienced Employee Whistleblower Lawyers at Villanueva & Sanchala can help you determine if you have a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit. Call now at (800) 893-9645 to speak with one of our attorneys.
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