The device manufacturer, ELA Medical, Inc. agreed to pay the United States $9,178,000 to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by giving kickbacks to cardiologists in exchange for the cardiologists ordering and causing hospitals to order ELA’s cardiac devices. The settlement resolves a qui tam action from 2006 that was filed by a former ELA employee. According to the allegations the cardiologists were given gifts, meals and entertainment, tickets to sporting events, travel to medical conferences, travel to Costa Rica, fishing and boating trips and payment of travel expenses for the physicians’ spouses. In addition to the settlement payment, ELA agreed to pay $485,000 to the relator’s attorneys and ELA also agreed to enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Officer of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (OIG). The relator’s share of the settlement amount is approximately $1.9 million.
There is also a second qui tam action pending against ELA. The relator in that action alleges that ELA paid kickbacks to cardiologists by paying excessive compensation for training services. The parties in the second qui tam action have reported that they are engaged in settlement discussions and that the case has been administratively closed due to those discussions.
For more information on the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statute, please visit www.wachler.com or contact a Wachler & Associates attorney at 248-544-0888.