by Randall Savage, 13WMAZ.com
- Julie Darity will get about $10.1 million for her part in a "whistleblower" lawsuit.
- That's 21 percent of the federal government's $48.2 million settlement with C.R. Bard, a NJ-based medical device company.
- The suit says the company inflated the costs to treat Medicare patients and using those profits to pay kickbacks.
A Macon woman receives millions of dollars for her part in helping the federal government get a $48.2 million settlement in a whistleblower lawsuit.
Julie Darity is expected to get $10.1 million, or 21 percent, of the settlement amount, said Macon attorney Charlie Cox who is one of the attorneys representing her in the suit against C.R. Bard, a New Jersey-based medical device company.
For 18 years, Darity worked for Bard, and she was employed as a contracts administrative officer at the company's Covington office, the lawsuit says.
In 2001, the suit says Darity discovered that Bard was paying hospitals and doctors kickbacks to encourage them to order Bard products at inflated prices.
Those products, radioactive seeds used to treat prostate cancer, would be dispersed to Medicare patients with the cancer. During that time, the suit says, "Medicare paid whatever price was billed for the seeds, so doctors and hospitals weren't affected by paying higher prices for seeds."
The suit says, "...from 1998 to 2006 Bard inflated the costs of the seeds to treat Medicare patients, using a portion of its excess profits to pay kickbacks. By paying kickbacks, Bard caused false and inflated claims to be submitted to Medicare, which is a violated of the False Claims Act."
After discovering what was happening, Darity said she reported the situation to her supervisor in hopes of getting the activity stopped.
But it didn't stop, Darity said, so she filed a formal complaint with the company in 2005.
"I filed a complaint through the complaints program and that was investigated, and shortly thereafter, my job was eliminated and I lost my job," Darity said.
"You certainly can't take kickbacks and then have Medicare take it up," Darity said. "But that's exactly what was going on."
A few days after he job was eliminated, Darity contacted Cox, who filed the federal lawsuit in January 2006.
Last week, Bard settled the suit for $48.2 million and an agreement from the U.S. Department of Justice that criminal charges wouldn't be sought.
Company officials say the settlement allows them to move forward and continue producing life-enhancing medical products for people around the world.
Cox said the settlement amount wasn't surprising "given the scope of the activity and how extensive it was, we expected that it would be pretty significant."
Darity is pleased with the award.
"I worked very hard on this case," she said. "I knew I'd get a pecentage and I believe I've been compensated based on my contributions to the case."
Despite becoming a millionaire, Darity said she plans to continue her current job at Social Security.