University of California Regents Agree to $10 Million Payment to Settle A Whistleblower Lawsuit Alleging Conflicts of interest, Whistleblower Retaliation, and Misconduct

A now-former UCLA orthopedic surgery department chairman alleged the medical school permitted physicians to accept industry payments and then retaliated against him for bringing the matter to their attention, Parker Waichman LLP notes.

  • Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on PinterestEmail a friend
“When physicians and others involved in health care community engage in misconduct and conflict of interest activities, they are defrauding the medical community, as well as patients,” said Gary Falkowitz, Managing Attorney at Parker Waichman LLP.

Port Washignton, New York (PRWEB) May 02, 2014

Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm dedicated to protecting the rights of whistleblowers who have reported, or seek to report, employers engaged in illegal activities, announces that the Regents of the University of California (UCLA) have agreed to pay $10 million in a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit. The lawsuit was brought by Robert Pedowitz, 54, a now-former orthopedic surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) health system, according to an April 23, 2014 report by Law360. The surgeon accused UCLA of retaliation following his reporting a number of misconduct and conflict of interest activities by UCLA health system physicians. (http://www.law360.com/articles/531084/uc-regents-ink-10m-settlement-with-whistleblowing-surgeon)

Dr. Pedowitz, 54, who was hired in 2009 by UCLA to manage its orthopedic surgery department, alleged that the medical school allowed physicians to accept industry payments that may have potentially affected patient care, that UCLA neglected to respond to the surgeon’s complaints over wide-ranging conflicts of interest, and that UCLA retaliated against him for his having brought the matters to their attention, according to an April 22, 2014 LA Times report. (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ucla-doctor-conflicts-20140423,0,3924175.story#axzz2ziYqAyG6

The lawsuit was brought against UCLA, the UC regents, fellow surgeons, and senior university officials. The settlement was just reached in Los Angeles County Superior Court prior to closing arguments. (Filed May, 11, 2012: Robert Pedowitz MD v. UC Regents et al., case number BC 484611, Los Angeles Superior Court)

UCLA denied the allegations, and officials there indicated that they did not discover wrongdoing by faculty or evidence that patient care was adversely impacted. According to the UC system, it agreed to the settlement to avoid the "substantial expense and inconvenience" of additional litigation, according to the LA Times. (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ucla-doctor-conflicts-20140423,0,3924175.story#axzz2ziYqAyG6)

According to Dr. Pedowitz, he discovered an array of ongoing conflicts of interest and other unethical activities during his employment at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA that was being conducted by the regents’ employees, agents, or contractors, court documents indicated, Law360 reported. (http://www.law360.com/articles/531084/uc-regents-ink-10m-settlement-with-whistleblowing-surgeon)

The whistleblower said that he attempted to appropriately report and stop the illegal behaviors, but was advised that, if he did not resign he would be terminated from his position as department chair. In 2010, he was fraudulently induced into signing a settlement agreement, he also alleged. The agreement essentially removed him from his position and demoted him, court filings indicate. Dr. Pedowitz also alleged that the school and other involved parties continued to harass, exclude, and humiliate him, according to Law360. (http://www.law360.com/articles/531084/uc-regents-ink-10m-settlement-with-whistleblowing-surgeon)

The surgeon also alleged that UCLA dismissed his reports because the university would likely receive financial benefits when medical devices or drugs developed by its physicians proved successful and that he was denied patient referrals and was unable to participate in grants and other activities, the LA Times wrote. As part of the settlement, the whistleblower left his position with UCLA faculty. (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ucla-doctor-conflicts-20140423,0,3924175.story#axzz2ziYqAyG6)

“When physicians and others involved in health care community engage in misconduct and conflict of interest activities, they are defrauding the medical community, as well as patients,” said Gary Falkowitz, Managing Attorney at Parker Waichman LLP. “These types of unethical activities create untenable work environments and, even worse, could result in serious injuries to the masses.”

Parker Waichman LLP supports whistleblower efforts to report illegal activities that may harm citizens. The firm continues to offer free legal evaluations to those individuals who believe their companies may be involved in wrongdoings. If you believe that your company is involved in illegal activities, or for more information, please visit the firm’s Whistleblower page at yourlawyer.com or call 1-800-LAW-INFO (1-800-529-4636). (http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/qui_tam)


Contact

Follow us on: Contact's Google Plus