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Orthofix paying $30M to settle kickbacks case

LAS VEGAS -- Federal officials say a medical spinal implants and surgery products company incorporated in Nevada has agreed to pay $30 million to settle allegations that a subsidiary paid illegal kickbacks to physicians to use its products.

The Justice Department announced Friday that Orthofix International NV agreed to resolve claims that Blackstone Medical Inc., provided surgeons with travel and entertainment and sham consulting, royalty and research deals.

The publicly traded company put the settlement amount at $32 million. President and chief executive Robert Vaters issued a statement in Leesville, Texas, saying he's pleased with the settlement.

It resolves a civil lawsuit filed in September 2006 in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts stemming from a whistleblower complaint by Susan Hutcheson of Florida. The Justice Department says she'll receive $8 million from the settlement.