Sightpath Medical, Inc. a Minnesota mobile ophthalmic company, and its former CEO, have agreed to pay $12 million to settle a whistleblower-initiated False Claims Act lawsuit alleging the company paid kickbacks to doctors for nearly a decade. The kickbacks took the form of luxury skiing vacations and high-end fishing, golfing and hunting trips, and resulted in payments in excess of fair market value.
The whistleblower in this case, Kipp Fesenmaier, a former Vice President of Operations for Sightpath’s predecessor entity, will receive a 19.5 percent share of the award for the work done in bringing, developing, and helping prosecute this case.
Former Sightpath CEO James Tiffany was also named in the lawsuit, and the U.S. attorney’s office said he was “directly involved” in brokering several of the trips with doctors, and even attended the outings. In short, Tiffany personally profited from employment, bonuses, and raises while this fraud was going on. Yet his own attorney notes that “Jim Tiffany paid nothing for this settlement” and “his portion of the settlement was paid entirely by Sightpath”.
The case is not yet over. The United States is expected to file an intervention complaint against other named defendants — Precision Lens, Paul Ehlen, and Jitendra Swarup — within 90 days.