ULSTER COUNTY, N.Y., Oct. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP, today filed suit against Biomet, Inc., and Biomet 3i, Inc., in New York Supreme Court, Ulster County, on behalf of the company's former sales representative Michael Swiss.
Swiss is represented in the matter by David Sanford, founder and Chairman of Sanford Heisler Kimpel and Jenn Siegel, an attorney in Sanford Heisler's New York office.
The Complaint asserts that after Swiss reported his concerns about the two companies' illegal kickback practices to Biomet officials in January 2010, the company's management launched a 13-month-long campaign of harassment and retaliation against him, culminating in his termination in March 2011. This harassment, retaliation and eventual termination violated Swiss' rights under the anti-retaliation provision of the New York False Claims Act, which prohibits employers from discharging, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing or otherwise discriminating against an employee for lawful acts carried out under the state's false claims statutes.
"Mr. Swiss had personal knowledge of alleged illegal kickback schemes Biomet used from at least 2007 until 2011," Sanford said. "During this period, he was aware that Biomet allegedly provided money, goods, and services to induce customers — including oral surgeons, dentists, laboratories, hospitals, and educational institutions in Ulster County — to order and use Biomet's products. Many these customers subsequently sought reimbursement for these products from the publicly-funded Medicaid program, in violation of state and federal laws."
In the four years since his termination by Biomet, Swiss has experienced significant financial and personal hardship, including severe mental and emotional distress and disruption to his family. His loss of employment forced him to liquidate his savings, sell his family's long-time NY residence and move to Kunkletown, PA. Since about March 2014, he has worked as an hourly retail employee at Lowe's Home Improvement in Leighton, PA.
Swiss was ultimately subjected to numerous other retaliatory acts and harassment by Biomet after he reported his kickback observations to company officials, including Biomet's placing him on "Performance Improvement Plans," one of which followed a serious injury incurred while taking a Biomet client mountain biking; denying his worker's compensation claim for this injury; and denying him an expanded sales territory, which he had earned with an exceptional sales record. His wrongful termination in March 2011 followed hostile treatment, during which Biomet's management sought to force him either to drop his complaints and requests for an investigation of its Medicaid compliance issues, or to quit his job. When Mr. Swiss continued to press for an investigation and threatened to sue the company, he was fired.
"Mr. Swiss' current income is considerably lower than the income he earned as a Territory Manager at Biomet," said Sanford. "In three years representing Biomet 3i in Ulster County, NY, prior to reporting the kickbacks he witnessed, he built an outstanding career, an excellent sales record and was rewarded with very significant compensation, national recognition and bonuses. In 2009, he was the company's third-highest-producing sales representative in the U.S., and was selected to present at Biomet's National Sales Meeting. This all changed drastically shortly after he voiced his concerns about the kickbacks to his Regional Sales Manager, Area Manager and Biomet's Human Resources Department."
The Complaint requests two times the amount of his back pay incurred as a result of the Defendants' conduct, plus interest; reinstatement to his former position and compensation level; compensation for special damages he has sustained as a result of the companies' conduct, including compensatory damages for emotional distress; litigation costs and reasonable attorneys' fees; and other relief the Court deems just and proper.
Biomet, now a part of Zimmer Biomet Holdings (NYSE and SIX: ZBH) headquartered in Warsaw, Indiana, manufactures and markets surgical and non-surgical products for the treatment of arthritis, joint and spine related injuries and facial reconstruction by orthopedic surgeons and other musculoskeletal specialists in more than 100 countries. ZBH reported 2015 second quarter net sales of $1.17 billion, with acquired revenue from Biomet of $60 million.
During Swiss' employment, Biomet, Inc. distributed medical devices in 90 countries, employed over 7,000 individuals and had annual sales of over $2.5 billion. Biomet 3i, Inc., a subsidiary of Biomet, Inc. headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, FL with operations around the world, made and sold dental implants, dental prosthetic components, and bone graft and dental restoration products. Both companies allegedly provided kickbacks to medical providers that caused or induced them to make false statements when seeking Medicaid reimbursement to which they were not entitled. The absence of kickbacks is a precondition for Medicaid payments under the New York Medicaid program.
A jury trial is requested.
About Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP
Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP is a public interest class-action litigation law firm with offices in New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Our attorneys have graduated from the nation's top law schools, clerked for judges throughout the United States, and amassed extensive experience litigating cases that have earned over one billion dollars for our clients.
The Firm specializes in civil rights and general public interest cases, representing plaintiffs with employment discrimination, labor and wage violations, predatory lending, whistleblower, consumer fraud, and other claims. Along with a focus on class actions, the firm also represents individuals and has achieved particular success in the representation of executives in employment disputes. For more information call 202 499-5200 or email@example.com.
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