Federal Jury Begins Hearing Whistleblower Claim Against Zimmer Biomet

EASTON, PA — A federal jury in Easton, Pa., has begun hearing allegations in a suit filed by a former medical device salesman against Zimmer Biomet, Warsaw. The former salesman, Dominick Pistone, is suing the Warsaw orthopedic company for $15 million for wrongful and retaliatory termination.

Pistone filed a lawsuit June 27, 2016, against his former employer after his termination following testimony before a Northampton grand jury in connection with what he believed to be the patient misconduct of an orthopedic surgeon in Allentown, Pa., and the medical practice with which that doctor is affiliated.

Events began in 2007 when Pistone spoke to his brother, Joseph Pistone, an FBI agent, about the surgeon and a company known as OtisMed. He told his brother the doctor was performing numerous double knee replacements, well above the average and believed it was primarily for financial gain and not in the best interest of the patients. He stated the doctor was also not informing patients OtisMed’s product had not obtained FDA approval. His brother advised him to report the violations to the FBI.

Documents state in accordance with the Zimmer code and his brother’s advice, he went to the FBI. Before doing so he told his direct supervisor at Zimmer what he was witnessing and what he planned to do. His supervisor, at the time, told him to report to the FBI. He met with an agent in Allentown, told what he knew, but asked to remain anonymous. However, because he was not willing to give up his anonymity, nothing further could be done. The matter was never pursued further.

Dominick Pistone again spoke to his supervisor in February 2008, reporting he was going to report the medical company and the doctor to the Zimmer anonymous hotline. He was given a PIN number and told he would be contacted. No return contact was ever made. Dominick Pristone, in 2011, began writing anonymous letters to a newspaper and district attorney offices in three counties detailing what he believed were unlawful activities.

In February 2015, Dominick Pistone was subpoenaed from the Northampton District attorney to testify before a grand jury. Dominick Pistone contacted the general manager of Zimmer Keystone and the company’s senior litigation counsel, making them aware of the subpoena and subject matter of the testimony. He also asked if Zimmer could provide an attorney to appear with him. He was told by the company’s legal counsel to give his testimony and report back to her.

Following his testimony March 19, 2015, he reported back to the general manager and attorney. He was told since Zimmer Biomet was not the target of the probe not to worry about the testimony and everything would be fine. On May 28, 2015, the retaliation began.

Dominick Pistone was contacted by one of Zimmer’s in-house attorneys informing him the other medical company and its CEO were threatening to sue Zimmer about an anonymous letter Pistone was accused of writing. The letter was allegedly one of the letters written in 2011.

On May 28, 2015, Pistone was notified by the general manager he and his son, who also worked for Zimmer as part of the sales team, were suspended by the other medical company from servicing their account with Zimmer. The following day, he was informed he was suspended indefinitely with pay pending the outcome of the other company’s situation. He was then fired June 12, 2015. The company alleged it was due to his suspension from the other company’s account and difficulty in selling in a specific area.

The suit alleges Pistone’s career has been destroyed and he has been the topic of conversations regularly with rumors and innuendoes being circulated by Zimmer Biomet employees along with the doctor and the other medical company.

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