Minnesota Medical Device Whistleblower Cases

Earlier this month, I wrote a blog that provided a rundown of Minnesota’s robust Whistleblower Act and its protections.  Indeed, the legal nuts and bolts of the whistleblower “animal” are all equal, but to borrow a line from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”—some are more equal than others. All of the medical device companies listed below are either headquartered here in Minnesota or have a major presence – you know the names:

  • Medtronic
  • Boston Scientific
  • St. Jude Medical
  • Stryker
  • Abbott Labs
  • Smiths Medical
  • 3M Health Care

Understanding Minnesota’s Whistleblower Act

Conventional wisdom tells us that if the whistleblower reported internally on information that tended to show by “clear and convincing evidence that the acts of the [company] show[ed] deliberate disregard for the rights or safety of others,” the whistleblower’s attorney would then have darn good standing to make a motion to add a claim for punitive damages to the court—allowing the attorney to make a “protecting the greater good” type argument in front of a jury.  Obviously, adding this third bucket of damages to the client’s (1) wage and benefit loss and (2) emotional distress damages increases the potential for a life changing verdict. 

Types of Medical Devices and Regulations

To put it simply, medical device companies are subject to dense and stringent federal laws enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their “Class III” products, which are devices that support or sustain human life, are of substantial importance in preventing impairment of human health, or present a potential, unreasonable risk of illness or injury.  Examples would include:

  • Implantable pacemakers
  • Pulse generators
  • Defibrillators
  • Artificial screws
  • Other devices implanted in the body

Because these regulations are so stringent and dense, medical device companies are rarely in full compliance. Time and time again, concerned managers and employees across the country attempt to do the right thing and report these illegal violations to their respective supervisors. Many times, the issues are fixed, but many more times retaliation occurs.  

Sales representatives and their departments are under immense pressure to win market share against their competitors.  With that competition comes pressure to bend the rules to gain a competitive advantage.  Kickbacks to doctors, off-label marketing by the sales representatives, and even failing to report device malfunctions (called “adverse events”) are common. 

Seek Expert Legal Guidance Now

If you or someone you know have tried to bring an issue to attention at your medical device company, and have experienced retaliation, expert legal guidance is vital. Do not hesitate to call us today for your free consultation. Between myself and my colleagues at MJSB Employment Justice, we have successfully handled numerous cases involving whistleblowers at medical device companies. I can assure you our legal team has never failed to recover for those clients. 

That reputation in our fearless fighting for the little guy speaks for itself. Don’t get me wrong. These companies do excellent work and have increased the quality of life for all of us. It’s just sometimes they need a firm reminder that profits are never put above people.  #FightBack.

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