A strongly-worded purported class action lawsuit against Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) accuses the medical device company and several of its current and former executives and board members of "criminal conspiracy, deceptive business practice and commercial bribery," according to court documents.
"Medtronic management with the timely acquiescence of the board members knowingly, intentionally, ruthlessly, recklessly, and with total indifference and disregard for human life (third degree murder in Minnesota) dumped thousands of potentially defective, extremely dangerous and perhaps fatal Medtronic defibrillators into an unsuspecting market (the stream of interstate commerce) while at the same time bribing physicians to recommend and implant the faulty cardiac devices," according to the documents.
The 3 plaintiffs – George Dalton of Alabama, Gary Patterson of Florida and Donald Alexande of Missouri – accused Medtronic and its leaders of knowingly allowing the Entrust pacemaker and Sprint Fidelis leads to hit the market.
"As the direct and proximate result of such criminal conspiracy, criminal commercial bribery and criminal deceptive business practice, plaintiffs and all class members suffering with deadly heart arrhythmias were defrauded, deceived, and bilked out of approximately $80,000 for Medtronic defibrillators known at the time of implanting to be potentially defective, extremely dangerous and perhaps fatal to recipients implanted therewith. After being deceived, exploited and written off as old folks living on borrowed time, plaintiffs and members of the class discovered that their defibrillators might kill them thereby suffering mental terror, long term anxiety, restricted physical activities, and increased risk of death in connection with removal surgery," according to the lawsuit.
"The claims being asserted were previously resolved in the course of the Sprint Fidelis litigation and Medtronic maintains they are without merit," Medtronic spokesman Christopher Garland told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The lawsuit seeks class action status for an estimated 25,000 plaintiffs and damages ranging from $80,000 to $200,000 for each plaintiff, plus compensatory damages for "mental terror, long term anxiety, restriction of physical activities, and increased risk of sudden cardiac death."
The suit names as defendants former CEO William Hawkins; CFO Gary Ellis; former chief regulatory officer Susan Alpert; chief ethics & compliance officer Kathleen Erickson DiGiorno; SVP of medicine & technology Dr. Stephen Oesterle; and board members Richard Anderson, Shirley Ann Jackson, DeniseO’leary, Robert Pozen and Jack Schuler.