Wisconsin residents might be interested to learn about a settlement that was reached in a false country of origin lawsuit involving medical device manufacturer Smith & Nephew. On Sept. 3, the London-based company agreed to settle a lawsuit with the U.S. government by paying $11.3 million in damages. In 2008, the company was accused of selling Malaysian-made orthopedic devices to the Department of Veterans Affairs and falsely claiming they were made in the United States.
In accordance with U.S. law, the whistleblower who filed the lawsuit will receive a portion of the settlement. The former Smith & Nephew information technology manager will be paid $2.3 million. The U.S. government will get $6 million from the settlement, and the remaining $3 million will cover attorneys’ fees.
According to reports, this whistleblower case marks the first settlement concerning medical devices sold with false country of origin claims. In addition to misrepresenting the country of origin, the claim accused Smith & Nephew of violating the federal Trade Agreements Act. Under the act, contractors who sell products to the U.S. government must source those products from either the United States or a country that has a trade agreement with the United States.
An employee who becomes aware of fraud that is happening in their workplace may be protected under federal law if they speak out regarding the alleged violation. If that person faces retaliation, he or she may benefit from speaking with an attorney. An attorney may be able to counsel the employee about their rights as a whistleblower and explain what steps they should take if he or she was fired or demoted after the incident.
Source: Reuters, “Smith & Nephew to pay $11 mln in whistleblower suit”, Brendan Pierson, September 04, 2014