A Medical Device Daily

Immucor (Norcross, Georgia) yesterday reported that the former head of its Italian subsidiary has told the company that he will appeal an Italian judge’s decision that he made illegal payments to physicians.

A developer of automated instrument-reagent systems to the blood transfusion industry, Immucor said that the public prosecutor in Milan has completed his previously reported investigation into payments by several companies to Italian physicians.

The prosecutor alleged that Dr. Gioacchino De Chirico, former president of its Italian subsidiary, participated in a EUR 13,500 payment to one physician and payments to another physician totaling about $47,000 to gain favorable procurement action at the physicians’ hospitals.

Under Italian law, the subsidiary itself could be held responsible for the EUR 13,500 payment because of actions taken by an officer. Both these payments were previously reported by the company, Immucor said.

Immucor said that the subsidiary and De Chirico cooperated with the prosecutor throughout the investigation and now have the right to present further evidence and dispute the allegations before the prosecutor decides whether to present the case to a judge. It said De Chirico intends to do so.

If the prosecutor decides to present the case to a judge, the judge then would decide whether or not the case would be sent to trial.

Immucor said: “No determination can yet be made as to whether it ultimately will become subject to any fines, penalties and/or other charges” as a result of the charges.

Immucor manufactures systems and reagents used to detect certain properties of the cell and serum components of blood prior to transfusion, and it markets automated instrumentation for all of its market segments.

In other legalities, The Birmingham News last week reported that a federal judge has denied the latest attempt by Richard Scrushy, former CEO of HealthSouth (Birmingham, Alabama) to have the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit against him dismissed, paving the way for a trial in 2007.

It reported that in a one-page order, without elaboration, U.S. District Court Judge Inge Johnson denied Scrushy’s motion for dismissal and said that the SEC lawsuit can proceed – almost three years after its filing. The charges include two counts of fraud and four counts of fraud-related claims.

The SEC is attempting to recover hundreds of millions of dollars it describes as ill-gotten gains as the result of the accounting fraud at HealthSouth while Scrushy headed the rehabilitation chain.

Johnson previously set a schedule for depositions and expert witness preparation to last through this year, with a trial slated to begin April 2, 2007.

The SEC amended its lawsuit against Scrushy three times after the case was put on hold pending the outcome of a criminal fraud trial against him. Scrushy was acquitted of all charges in that case last June.

In the SEC lawsuit, Scrushy’s lawyers had argued the SEC failed to justify its charges with enough evidence that would cause a reasonable person to have a strong inference that the HealthSouth founder was involved in the accounting fraud. That fraud produced a false inflation of the organizations revenues by about $2.6 billion over the period 1996 to 2002.

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