Details of whistle-blower lawsuit against Medtronic made public

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 20, 2006

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Evidence unsealed in January in a whistle-blower lawsuit against medical device maker Medtronic alleges that company officials improperly paid doctors millions of dollars in consulting fees and bribes to urge physicians to use spinal implants.

United States, et al v. Zdeblick, et al, filed in the U.S. District Court in Memphis, accuses Medtronic, 16 doctors and the clinics they are affiliated with of "special payments and treatment in return for their agreements to assist [Medtronic] in the unlawful promotion of its products among potential physician users."

The lawsuit, brought by former Medtronic employee Jacqueline Kay Poteet and filed on behalf of the federal government, also alleges violations of federal false claims and anti-kickback laws. Poteet's attorney, Andrew R. Carr Jr. of Memphis, said the Dept. of Justice was expected to join the lawsuit but had yet to do so. Until then, the doctors have not been served, he said.

The Indiana Spine Group, a named defendant in the case, said it had no knowledge of the lawsuit. Some doctors did not return calls or declined to comment for the story. Others were not available.

Carr said he had rejected a $40 million settlement offer from the government because it was "unreasonably low" and told them "the bribery behavior was continuing and had not ceased."

Rob Clark, Medtronic spokesman, did not comment on the allegations in the lawsuit citing ongoing litigation. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Memphis also declined to comment due to the pending lawsuit.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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