FDA Scientists & Doctors: Agency Read Our Personal Emails For Alerting Public About Medical Device Safety

A lawsuit filed by current and former employees of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration charges that the agency accessed and spied on their personal e-mail accounts after scientists and doctors alerted Congress and the media that certain radiation-emitting computer detection devices may not be safe or effective.

The lawsuit filed by scientists and doctors charges that nine FDA employees (the “FDA Nine”) had their private, personal, password protected email accounts on Google and Yahoo secretly recorded by the the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the government agency to which the FDA reports.

Why? Because the FDA scientists and doctors engaged in whistleblower-protected conduct by voicing concerns about radiation-induced cancer risks allegedly involving medical devices that the agency regulated.

Even a lawyer at the HHS Inspector General’s office rebuffed FDA attempts to launch a criminal investigation against the FDA Nine, concluding that:

The referral lacks any evidence of criminal conduct on the part of any HHS employee. Additionally, 5 U.S.C. § 1213 identifies that disclosures, such as the ones alleged, when they relate to matters of public safety may be made to the media and Congress…

The lawsuit charges that the plaintiffs’ whistleblower activity prompted the FDA to unlawfully target and conduct secret surveillance against them by unlawfully accessing, recording, and reading the employees’ personal email accounts. The FDA Nine were subsequently fired by the agency after medical device makers complained about a New York Times article that cited concerns about radiation-induced cancers.

The plaintiffs’ lawsuit alleges a host of constitutional problems, including that the FDA employees’ First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights were violated.

You can read the lawsuit below, and the case docket here:

First Amended Complaint

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