A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

A federal judge last week indicated that she would throw out three perjury charges against Richard Scrushy, founder and former CEO of HealthSouth (Birmingham, Alabama), being tried for a conspiracy in a widespread accounting fraud by the company.

U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre told jurors they would have "three fewer charges" to consider, though not explaining the reasons. She said the trial would move ahead on 55 other counts.

Bowdre granted a defense motion to bar jurors from hearing evidence about Scrushy's sworn statement to an investigator from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Scrushy had been charged with three counts of perjury for allegedly lying in a statement provided to the SEC in 2003.

Scrushy's is the first case being tried under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which requires top executives to be strictly accountable for a company's financial auditing.

Nellcor (Pleasanton, California), a developer of pulse oximetry technologies, reported that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in Washington, issued a key decision relating to Nellcor's U.S. patent No. 4,934,372, enabling Nellcor to proceed with its patent infringement lawsuit vs. Masimo.

The interpretation, Nellcor said in a statement, "is important because a patent's meaning often becomes a determining factor in infringement cases." Nellcor said the patent is important for pulse oximetry signal processing which provides a way to increase the accuracy of calculations used to monitor a patient's blood oxygen saturation.

Nellcor asserts that its patent covers one of the core elements of Masimo's pulse oximetry products, as well as products that Masimo supplies to other manufacturers of patient monitoring systems.

David Sell, president of Nellcor, said that the ruling "reinforces our belief that when the legal process is complete, we will ultimately prevail against Masimo."