A Warning to Aspiring Entrepreneurs and Society at Large: The Abuse of the Justice System to Advance Political Aspirations. Howard Root was an accomplished lawyer when he gambled his career on becoming a medical device entrepreneur.
A Warning to Aspiring Entrepreneurs and Society at Large: The Abuse of the Justice System to Advance Political Aspirations. Howard Root was an accomplished lawyer when he gambled his career on becoming a medical device entrepreneur. Over the next twenty-years, Root created Vascular Solutions (VS) which developed and commercialized more than 100 medical devices that are today improving the lives of millions of people worldwide who suffer from vascular disease.
His entrepreneurial adventure ultimately had a very good ending for him, his investors and his employees, with the company being sold to Teleflex Inc. for $1 billion.
Those who have toiled in the medical device start-up world know that this journey was not easy. Eighty percent (80%) of all start-ups fail and most founder/CEOs have tenure of less than five years.
Root’s successful journey was even more remarkable and significant than that of any medical device founder/CEO I have witnessed during my many years in this industry.
His story, as told in Cardiac Arrest, is not your usual start-up success story that inspires others to gamble security for a chance to help the lives of millions. Instead, it is a depressing story about how federal government abuse and its disregard for the rule-of-law can thwart a smart gamble and good people from bringing desperately needed medical products to humanity. As a healthcare CEO, this was a thriller I could not put down.
Cardiac Arrest details Root’s five year battle with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) who abused the tremendous power entrusted in it to destroy Vascular Solutions and put Root behind bars. Yes, this is the same DOJ that has been in the headlines recently for alleged political corruption at the highest levels.
The source material for the book comes from material used for the trial and Root’s personal journal.
Root’s problems began with a disgruntled VS salesman who filed a whistleblower suit with the US attorney’s office in San Antonio, Texas. The former employee charged that the company was selling an approved device for an unapproved indication. He stood to gain 20% of whatever the government could extract from the company.
While the matter could have been resolved quickly without wasting time and millions of taxpayer money, the DOJ chose to make this landmark case to serve as a warning to other medical device company CEOs.
They chose the wrong case, the wrong company and the wrong CEO. And they lost…the jury rejected each and every allegation after the defense decided to rest immediately after the government finished its case.
The government’s own witnesses proved the company’s and Root’s innocence. As one juror told Root after the trial, “What the federal government did to you, your company and your employees is nothing short of criminal.”
These prosecutors likely just shrugged off the jury’s verdict, because prosecutors rarely get disciplined and almost never get fired for their mistakes. And unlike virtually everyone else in this country, prosecutors can’t be sued for violating the rules that apply to their job — they have immunity by law.
The DOJ’s intransigence in their prosecution began immediately when they chose not to meet with Root and his defense attorneys to correct the misinformation they had. Instead they spent five years taking the case to trial during which they subpoenaed over 2 million pages of documents and interviewed 60 customers and employees. Fighting this malicious prosecution over five years was a resource intensive effort involving over 100 lawyers and costing VSI $30 million. You can bet that the taxpayer paid much more.
Root’s story details how the DOJ and its prosecutors abused its power and used the justice system, including judges, to distort justice and abuse individual liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Consitution.
- It pressed forward despite receiving evidence that conflicted with the story told by the former employee.
- Instead of changing their conclusions to fit the evidence, the prosecutors engaged in obscene tactics and lawbreaking to try and change the evidence.
- The DOJ brushed aside grand jury secrecy rules and rules against threatening witnesses in an effort to shape their testimony.
- Prosecutors twisted witnesses’ words to make their case and threatened witnesses with an indictment if they did not “fix” their testimony. One was told to think about her children and their being without a mom as she served time in a prison.
- Government witnesses were not shown relevant evidence that would have revealed to them the truth about the law and VSI’s (and Root’s) innocence.
It took the loyalty of VSI’s customers and employees, the leadership of Howard Root, and the unwavering support of VSI’s board to fight this fight.
Root notes that one will never know how many other companies have been or would have been leveraged into settlements regarding allegations that would not have withstood the test of our adversarial process.
Cardiac Arrest is a warning not only to aspiring medical product entreprenuers but to society at large.
Evidence of DOJ abuse and corruption continues to mount. There are many more cases like this one that the press has failed to report on.
DOJ’s decisions to prosecute or not prosecute depends on the political agenda not the rule of law.
When there is a need for a scalp to advance an agenda, we are all vulnerable. The prosecution of this case nearly destroyed thousands of lives needlessly including VSI’s employees and patients…and millions more in the future who need Innovative life-saving products.
Thomas M. Loarie is the CEO of BryoLogyx, a rotating host of THE MENTORS RADIO show, and a senior editorial advisor and columnist for the Catholic Business Journal. For a more robust bio click here: http://catholicbusinessjournal.biz/content/thomas-m-loarie-0. He may be reached at TLoarie@CatholicBusinessJournal.biz