One of the whistle-blowing scientists who accused the FDA of persecuting and spying on employees has a few lawsuits under his belt, a charge that may damage his credibility in an ongoing case against the federal watchdog agency.
Radiologist Dr. Robert Smith, a member of the so-called "FDA 9," joined colleagues in suing the FDA and its leadership for alleged retaliation against them when they raised questions agency decisions about some mammogram and colonoscopy systems.
The staffers allege that the FDA spied on the private email accounts they accessed using their government-issued computers, after they warned Congress and the president that unsafe medical devices were being allowed onto the U.S. market.
It’s not the first row for Smith, who had previously filed lawsuits against 2 other employers and had also sued a handful of medical device companies.
Smith’s 2005 lawsuit against Yale-New Haven Hospital was dismissed and he received at least $250,000 for his claims of retaliation, the Wall Street Journal reported. His case against New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell was also dismissed.
In 2006 Smith sued a dozen medical device makers, accusing them of filing false statements in their FDA review applications and thus defrauding Medicare and Medicaid, according to the paper. The U.S. Justice Dept. refused to join that suit and it was dropped last year.
Internal FDA documents painted Smith as a skilled professional, but he had a reputation for being difficult to work with, according to the Journal. Smith’s lawyer responded that FDA managers were attempting to portray him as a "serial whistleblower."