St. Jude Faces Two Shareholder Lawsuits
Two lawsuits filed last month against St. Jude Medical, Inc., and a handful of its top executives and officers, state that shareholders should not bear responsibility for the funds that the company has spent on other lawsuits.
The shareholder complaints, which were both filed in U.S. District Court in Minnesota and cite many of the same allegations, claim that the Little Canada-based medical device company has faced expensive and time-consuming litigation while under its current leadership-which have caused harm to the company and in turn, shareholders.
The suits were filed on behalf of Cindy Henzel-an individual shareholder from Pennsylvania-and the Louisiana municipal police employees' retirement system, a Louisiana-based institutional shareholder of St. Jude's stock.
Both complaints seek to “prevent corporate insiders from shifting all responsibility for the company's misconduct onto the backs of the innocent public shareholders, while they themselves walk away while paying nothing, and even voting themselves increased salaries and benefits.” Defendants named in the complaints include CEO Daniel Starks and directors John Brown, Richard Devenuti, and Stuart Essig, among others.
St. Jude spokeswoman Amy Jo Meyer wrote in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday that the complaints are “substantially identical derivative actions.” “The allegations raised in these cases are baseless and without merit,” she wrote. “The company plans to vigorously defend against these claims.”
Both complaints focus on federal cases against St. Jude that accuse the company of paying illegal kickbacks to health care providers. In one case, St. Jude paid $3.7 million to resolve allegations that it made illegal payments to two hospitals to secure heart-device business.
The other case cited in the shareholder lawsuits alleges that St. Jude provided kickbacks to induce health care providers, including cardiologists, to use the company's products. The shareholder lawsuit claims that these actions “allegedly tainted the treatment of many cardiac patients and subjected seriously ill patients and others to unnecessary medical procedures designed to promote the use of St. Jude products, including implantable defibrillators and pacemakers.” That case is still pending.
In an unrelated case, St. Jude settled a lawsuit last month in which the company accused one of its former executives of violating a noncompete agreement when he accepted a job with competitor Medtronic, Inc.
St. Jude is among Minnesota's 20-largest public companies based on its 2008 revenue, which totaled $4.4 billion. The company reported revenue of $4.7 billion in 2009.