UCLA Doc to Get $10 Mil in Whistleblower Lawsuit Settlement

Dr. Robert Pedowitz said he suffered retaliation as a result of coming forward with concerns of conflicts of interest and other misconduct by doctors.

Dr. Robert Pedowitz. Photo courtesy of UCLA.
Dr. Robert Pedowitz. Photo courtesy of UCLA.

A UCLA physician will receive $10 million under a settlement reached Tuesday with the University of California Board of Regents concerning his whistleblower suit, his attorney confirmed today.

Dr. Robert Pedowitz alleged he suffered a backlash after detecting and disclosing conflicts of interest and other misconduct by doctors within the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Pedowitz's lawyer, Ivan Puchalt, confirmed the $10 million settlement amount. The trial of his client's suit came to an abrupt halt just hours before jurors were about to hear final arguments Tuesday. Testimony began in early March.

Pedowitz, 54, was recruited as chairman of the UCLA Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in 2009, but resigned a year later and alleged he was induced by management at that time to sign a settlement agreement.

Pedowitz sued the UC regents and several UCLA doctors in Los Angeles Superior Court in May 2012, alleging he was a whistleblower who suffered retaliation as a result of coming forward with his concerns. He said the allegedly inappropriate conduct by some of the other department physicians included using the UCLA logo on personal websites without getting official permission.

He also alleged two other UCLA doctors were paid as long-term members of the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation without disclosing their outside income.

Pedowitz additionally claimed he was wrongfully demoted and that another UCLA physician defamed him by distributing to the faculty what Pedowitz said was false information concerning his previous employment at the University of South Florida. He said he would not have agreed to step down from his chairmanship as part of the 2010 settlement had he known at the time that the memo was being circulated.

UCLA spokesman Tod Tamberg released a statement on behalf of the university, saying the UC Board of Regents "resolved this lawsuit to end a prolonged conflict and permit UCLA Health Sciences to refocus on its primary missions of teaching, research, patient care and community engagement."

"Although disappointed that court rulings early in the trial prevented the jury from hearing the full story, UCLA acted fully within the scope of law and UC policy in this case."

--City News Service


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