* US says had "good cause" to intervene in case
* Whistleblower alleges kickbacks
* St Jude has said would defend against lawsuit
NEW YORK, Aug 9 A federal judge has given the
United States permission to join a lawsuit by a former St Jude
Medical Inc STJ.N worker who accused the maker of pacemakers
and other heart devices of involvement in a kickback scheme.
U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock in Boston granted the
U.S. request on Monday, nearly five years after federal
investigators opened a probe into alleged kickbacks relating to
St. Jude and Medtronic Inc (MDT.N), another large maker of
In an Aug. 5 court filing, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz had
written that while the government had in December 2009 declined
to intervene, it now had "good cause" to do so following
additional witness interviews and document reviews.
According to a complaint filed in January, the plaintiff
Charles Donigian believes St. Jude paid kickbacks to doctors,
hospitals and other healthcare providers to induce them to
prescribe its products, and the providers then submitted
reimbursement claims to Medicare and other federal programs.
In addition, Donigian alleged that St. Jude would pay
professionals "sham fees" for fake clinical research studies,
and provide them with improper gifts such as tickets to
sporting events or junkets to luxury resorts.
Donigian has said he worked as a St. Jude technical service
specialist in the St. Louis area from the fall of 2004 to the
spring of 2007.
St. Jude had objected to the government motion, and
spokeswoman Amy Jo Meyer on Friday said the St. Paul, Minnesota
would "vigorously defend" against the lawsuit.
Whistleblower cases, sometimes known as qui tam cases, are
a means for people who believe companies have defrauded the
government to file suit. These people can share in settlement
or other payments that companies may make.
Woodlock ordered the government to file its complaint by
Aug. 31, and set an Oct. 27 hearing in the case.
The case is U.S. ex rel. Charles Donigian vs. St Jude
Medical Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts,
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by