Lawsuit against surgeons dismissed

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A whistle-blower lawsuit alleging that some of the nation’s top spine surgeons accepted kickbacks for promoting a Medtronic Inc. spine surgery product was dismissed Friday by a federal judge in Massachusetts.

The 2007 suit was filed by Jacqueline Kay Poteet and Bobbie Vaden, former employees with Medtronic’s Memphis-based spine business. Named as defendants were 120 leading spine surgeons across the country, including nine in the Twin Cities, and 18 medical device distributors.

The complaint alleges the surgeons were paid consulting fees totaling $8 million in 2006 to promote a Medtronic product called Infuse for use in “off-label” ways not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

But Judge Richard Stearns rejected those claims in an 18-page decision, ruling the allegations did not constitute a whistle-blower suit. He also blocked a motion by the two women to file an amended complaint.

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