Federal jury finds Precision Lens liable for $43M for illegal kickbacks, false claims

A federal jury has found Precision Lens, a cataract surgery lens distribution company, along with its majority owner Paul Ehlen liable for $43 million in illegal kickbacks, StarTribune reported Feb. 28. 

The jury found the company and Mr. Ehlen violated the federal anti-kickback statute and False Claims Act. 

The kickbacks, which included luxury hunting, fishing and sporting outings, were allegedly used to sway surgeons into using Precision Lens products, according to the jury. These kickbacks allegedly led to millions of dollars of business for Precision Lens and caused the submission of 64,575 false claims to the Medicare program between 2006 and 2015.

Precision Lens and Mr. Ehlen are maintaining their innocence in the case. 

"We will continue to defend ourselves and our wholly appropriate actions as we navigate the appeals process," Precision Lens and Mr. Ehlen said in a statement obtained by the publication.  "We remain focused on our mission and commitment to the doctors, facilities, and manufacturers who place their trust in us each day."

Attorneys for Precision Lens and Mr. Ehlen told StarTribune from 2006 to 2015, the organization  was the main distributor in the Midwest region for the products in question and that a majority of the 52 physicians who allegedly received kickbacks already had a brand preference for the products they used.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for Minnesota initially filed a lawsuit against Precision Lens and Mr. Ehlen in 2018. Defendants who are found guilty for violating the False Claims Act are liable for triple the amount of damages in the case, which could bring the jury's $43 million judgment to $120 million.

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