Three lawyers with the Santa Monica law firm Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP are being honored as finalists for the Consumer Attorney of the Year Award this weekend in San Francisco.
Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) holds its annual gala on Saturday Nov. 15, 2014 to acknowledge the state’s most groundbreaking legal cases in 2014. There are eight nominees and one winner will be announced at the event.
GB&W Partner Mark Quigley along with attorneys Ivan Puchalt and Christian Nickerson settled a $10-million whistleblower retaliation/wrongful termination lawsuit with The Regents of The University of California in April 2014.
Their client, Robert Pedowitz, M.D. argued he suffered retaliation after reporting conflicts of interest and other misconduct by doctors that he witnessed as chairman of the UCLA Department of Orthopedic Surgery in 2009.
While the UC system may claim it encourages its employees to report improper activity and promises to protect employees that come forward, that’s not what actually happens.
“Instead the UC tries to cover up the wrongdoing by protecting the wrongdoers and retaliating against the whistleblowers,” said Quigley.
Dr. Pedowitz testified during the 8-week trial about one of the orthopedic surgeons receiving $250,000 in consulting fees in 2008 from device maker Medtronic.
Dr. Pedowitz also testified about writing memos to university officials raising concerns about recurrent conflicts of interest and unethical activities by other doctors at the medical school.
Dr. Pedowitz’s attorneys argued UCLA turned a blind eye to this conflict of interest because the university profited from the success of medical products or drugs developed by its doctors.
“Patients have a right to know if their doctor is receiving income or gifts from the company whose product the doctor is promoting for their health care,” said Quigley.
On the eve of closing arguments, The University of California agreed to pay $10-million dollars to the former surgical chairman.
The case is raising new concerns that UCLA’s financial ties to medical device manufacturers may compromise patient care.