Patient Calls Medical Kickbacks Civil Battery


TUCSON (CN) – A patient filed a civil battery lawsuit against an Arizona neurosurgeon, claiming the doctor implanted devices in him without revealing that he was on the take from a company that paid $30 million to settle kickback claims.
     John Sherman sued Dr. Harvey Thomas, Blackstone Medical, Orthofix, Orthofix International, and Orthofix Spinal Implants, in Pima County Court.
     Sherman claims that Thomas, a neurosurgeon in Prescott, failed to tell him about his deal with Orthofix International subsidiary Blackstone Medical, before doing surgery on his neck and back.
     “Between approximately 2000 and 2006 defendant Thomas was in a financial scheme with one or more of the Blackstone defendants where defendant Thomas received financial incentives to install Blackstone Medical devices,” Sherman claims in the lawsuit.
     “During the relevant timeframe, defendant Thomas exclusively used Blackstone medical devices.”
     The U.S. Justice Department announced a $30 million settlement with Orthofix International in 2012, after a whistleblower claimed the company paid spinal surgeons to use its devices.
     “These alleged kickbacks took a number of forms, including sham consulting agreements, sham royalty arrangements, sham research grants, travel and entertainment,” the Department of Justice said in a statement in 2012.
     Sherman claims his surgeries constituted battery because he would not have had them if he’d known about the doctor’s deal with Blackstone.
     “Plaintiff would not have consented to a procedure such as the neck and back procedures performed by defendant Harvey Thomas, M.D. if informed that the surgeon had a financial incentive that impaired his ability to make a reasoned and proper medical decision,” the complaint states.
     “Defendant Harvey Thomas, M.D. committed battery when he performed a surgery while receiving financial incentives from the device’s manufacturer.”
     Sherman also claims that Blackstone and Orthofix engaged in a civil conspiracy to commit battery.
     “Blackstone Medical Inc. enticed Dr. Thomas to use its equipment, exclusively, through a financial arrangement that impaired Dr. Thomas’s independent medical judgment,” the lawsuit states.
     Sherman seeks punitive damages and costs.
     Courthouse News Service failed to reach Thomas at his office in Prescott on Tuesday. A message left with his medical assistant was not returned.
     Sherman is represented by Stephen Weeks, of Tucson.

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