search results for 
Logo

29. Commitments and contingent liabilities

OPERATING LEASES AND RENTAL PAYMENTS

Fresenius Group’s subsidiaries lease office and manufacturing buildings as well as machinery and equipment under various lease agreements expiring on dates through 2101. Rental expense recorded for operating leases for the years ended December 31, 2011 and 2010 was €497 million and €480 million, respectively.

Future minimum rental payments under non-cancellable operating leases for the years subsequent to December 31, 2011 are:

for the fiscal years € in millions
2012 436
2013 376
2014 320
2015 270
2016 221
Thereafter 677
Total 2,300

for the fiscal years € in millions
2012 436
2013 376
2014 320
2015 270
2016 221
Thereafter 677
Total 2,300

As of December 31, 2011, future investment commitments existed up to the year 2016 from the acquisition contracts for hospitals at projected costs of up to €350 million. Thereof €75 million relates to the year 2012.

Besides the above mentioned contingent liabilities, the amount of other commitments is immaterial.

LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

The Fresenius Group is routinely involved in numerous claims, lawsuits, regulatory and tax audits, investigations and other legal matters arising, for the most part, in the ordinary course of its business of providing healthcare services and products. Legal matters that the Fresenius Group currently deems to be material are described below. For the matters described below in which the Fresenius Group believes a loss is both reasonably possible and estimable, an estimate of the loss or range of loss exposure is provided. For the other matters described below, the Fresenius Group believes that the loss probability is remote and/or the loss or range of possible losses cannot be reasonably estimated at this time. The outcome of litigation and other legal matters is always difficult to predict accurately and outcomes that are not consistent with Fresenius Group’s view of the merits can occur. The Fresenius Group believes that it has valid defenses to the legal matters pending against it and is defending itself vigorously. Nevertheless, it is possible that the resolution of one or more of the legal matters currently pending or threatened could have a material adverse effect on its business, results of operations and financial condition.

Commercial litigation

W.R. Grace & Co. lawsuit

Fresenius Medical Care was originally formed as a result of a series of transactions it completed pursuant to the Agreement and Plan of Reorganization dated as of February 4, 1996, by and between W.R. Grace & Co. and Fresenius SE (the Merger). At the time of the Merger, a W.R. Grace & Co. subsidiary known as W.R. Grace & Co.-Conn. had, and continues to have, significant liabilities arising out of product-liability related litigation (including asbestos-related actions), pre-Merger tax claims and other claims unrelated to National Medical Care, Inc. (NMC), which was W.R. Grace & Co.’s dialysis business prior to the Merger. In connection with the Merger, W.R. Grace & Co.-Conn. agreed to indemnify Fresenius Medical Care, Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc. (FMCH), and NMC against all liabilities of W.R. Grace & Co., whether relating to events occurring before or after the Merger, other than liabilities arising from or relating to NMC’s operations. W.R. Grace & Co. and certain of its subsidiaries filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code (the Grace Chapter 11 Proceedings) on April 2, 2001.

Prior to and after the commencement of the Grace Chapter 11 Proceedings, class action complaints were filed against W.R. Grace & Co. and FMCH by plaintiffs claiming to be creditors of W.R. Grace & Co.-Conn., and by the asbestos creditors’ committees on behalf of the W.R. Grace & Co. bankruptcy estate in the Grace Chapter 11 Proceedings, alleging among other things that the Merger was a fraudulent conveyance, violated the uniform fraudulent transfer act and constituted a conspiracy. All such cases have been stayed and transferred to or are pending before the U.S. District Court as part of the Grace Chapter 11 Proceedings.

In 2003, Fresenius Medical Care reached agreement with the asbestos creditors’ committees on behalf of the W.R. Grace & Co. bankruptcy estate and W.R. Grace & Co. in the matters pending in the Grace Chapter 11 Proceedings for the settlement of all fraudulent conveyance and tax claims against it and other claims related to Fresenius Medical Care that arise out of the bankruptcy of W.R. Grace & Co. Under the terms of the settlement agreement as amended (Settlement Agreement), fraudulent conveyance and other claims raised on behalf of asbestos claimants will be dismissed with prejudice and Fresenius Medical Care will receive protection against existing and potential future W.R. Grace & Co. related claims, including fraudulent conveyance and asbestos claims, and indemnification against income tax claims related to the non-NMC members of the W.R. Grace & Co. consolidated tax group upon confirmation of a W.R. Grace & Co. bankruptcy reorganization plan that contains such provisions. Under the Settlement Agreement, Fresenius Medical Care will pay a total of US$115 million without interest to the W.R. Grace & Co. bankruptcy estate, or as otherwise directed by the Court, upon plan confirmation. No admission of liability has been or will be made. The Settlement Agreement has been approved by the U.S. District Court. In January and February 2011, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court entered orders confirming the joint plan of reorganization and the confirmation orders were affirmed by the U.S. District Court on January 31, 2012.

Subsequent to the Merger, W.R. Grace & Co. was involved in a multi-step transaction involving Sealed Air Corporation (Sealed Air, formerly known as Grace Holding, Inc.). Fresenius Medical Care is engaged in litigation with Sealed Air to confirm its entitlement to indemnification from Sealed Air for all losses and expenses incurred by Fresenius Medical Care relating to pre-Merger tax liabilities and Merger-related claims. Under the Settlement Agreement, upon final confirmation of a plan of reorganization that satisfies the conditions of Fresenius Medical Care’s payment obligation, this litigation will be dismissed with prejudice.

Baxter patent dispute “touchscreen interfaces” (1)

On April 4, 2003, FMCH filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, styled Fresenius USA, Inc., et al., v. Baxter International, Inc., et al., Case No. C 03-1431, seeking a declaratory judgment that FMCH does not infringe patents held by Baxter International, Inc. and its subsidiaries and affiliates (Baxter), that the patents are invalid, and that Baxter is without right or authority to threaten or maintain suit against FMCH for alleged infringement of Baxter’s patents. In general, the asserted patents concern the use of touch screen interfaces for hemodialysis machines. Baxter filed counterclaims against FMCH seeking more than US$140 million in monetary damages and injunctive relief, and alleging that FMCH willfully infringed on Baxter’s patents. On July 17, 2006, the court entered judgment on a jury verdict in favor of FMCH finding that all the asserted claims of the Baxter patents are invalid as obvious and/or anticipated in light of prior art.

On February 13, 2007, the court granted Baxter’s motion to set aside the jury’s verdict in favor of FMCH and reinstated the patents and entered judgment of infringement. Following a trial on damages, the court entered judgment on November 6, 2007 in favor of Baxter on a jury award of US$14.3 million. On April 4, 2008, the court denied Baxter’s motion for a new trial, established a royalty payable to Baxter of 10% of the sales price for continuing sales of FMCH’s 2008K hemodialysis machines and 7% of the sales price of related disposables, parts and service beginning November 7, 2007, and enjoined sales of the touchscreen-equipped 2008K machine effective January 1, 2009. Fresenius Medical Care appealed the court’s rulings to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Federal Circuit). In October 2008, Fresenius Medical Care completed design modifications to the 2008K machine that eliminate any incremental hemodialysis machine royalty payment exposure under the original District Court order. On September 10, 2009, the Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s decision and determined that the asserted claims in two of the three patents at issue are invalid. As to the third patent, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision; however, the Court also vacated the injunction and award of damages. These issues were remanded to the District Court for reconsideration in light of the invalidity ruling on most of the claims. As a result, FMCH is no longer required to fund the court-approved escrow account set up to hold the royalty payments ordered by the district court. Funds of US$70 million were contributed to the escrow fund. In the parallel reexamination of the last surviving patent, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences ruled that the remaining Baxter patent is invalid. Baxter appealed the Board’s ruling to the Federal Circuit.

Baxter patent dispute “Liberty cycler”

On October 17, 2006, Baxter and DEKA Products Limited Partnership (DEKA) filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas which was subsequently transferred to the Northern District of California, styled Baxter Healthcare Corporation and DEKA Products Limited Partnership v. Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc. d/b/a Fresenius Medical Care North America and Fresenius USA, Inc., Case No. CV 438 TJW. The complaint alleged that FMCH’s Liberty™ cycler infringes nine patents owned by or licensed to Baxter. During and after discovery, seven of the asserted patents were dropped from the suit. On July 28, 2010, at the conclusion of the trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of FMCH finding that the Liberty™ cycler does not infringe any of the asserted claims of the Baxter patents. The District Court denied Baxter’s request to overturn the jury verdict and Baxter appealed the verdict and resulting judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. On February 13, 2012, the Federal Circuit affirmed the District Court’s non-infringement verdict.

Other litigation and potential exposures

Renal Care Group – Class action “acquisition”

Renal Care Group, Inc. (RCG), which Fresenius Medical Care acquired in 2006, is named as a nominal defendant in a complaint originally filed September 13, 2006 in the Chancery Court for the State of Tennessee Twentieth Judicial District at Nashville styled Indiana State District Council of Laborers and Hod Carriers Pension Fund v. Gary Brukardt et al. Following the trial court’s dismissal of the complaint, plaintiff’s appeal in part, and reversal in part by the appellate court, the cause of action purports to be a class action on behalf of former shareholders of RCG and seeks monetary damages only against the individual former directors of RCG. The individual defendants, however, may have claims for indemnification and reimbursement of expenses against Fresenius Medical Care. Fresenius Medical Care expects to continue as a defendant in the litigation, which is proceeding toward trial in the Chancery Court, and believes that defendants will prevail.

Renal Care Group – Complaint “Method II”

On July 17, 2007, resulting from an investigation begun in 2005, the United States Attorney filed a civil complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) against RCG, its subsidiary RCG Supply Company, and FMCH in its capacity as RCG’s current corporate parent. The complaint seeks monetary damages and penalties with respect to issues arising out of the operation of RCG’s Method II supply company through 2005, prior to FMCH’s acquisition of RCG in 2006. The complaint is styled United States of America ex rel. Julie Williams et al. vs. Renal Care Group, Renal Care Group Supply Company and FMCH. On August 11, 2009, the Missouri District Court granted RCG’s motion to transfer venue to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (Nashville). On March 22, 2010, the Tennessee District Court entered judgment against defendants for approximately US$23 million in damages and interest under the unjust enrichment count of the complaint but denied all relief under the six False Claims Act counts of the complaint. On June 17, 2011, the District Court entered summary judgment against RCG for US$83 million on one of the False Claims Act counts of the complaint. On June 23, 2011, Fresenius Medical Care appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Although Fresenius Medical Care cannot provide any assurance of the outcome, Fresenius Medical Care believes that RCG’s operation of its Method II supply company was in compliance with applicable law, that no relief is due to the United States, that the decisions made by the District Court on March 22, 2010 and June 17, 2011 will be reversed, and that its position in the litigation will ultimately be sustained.

Fresenius Medical Care Holdings – Qui tam complaint (Western District of Texas)

On November 27, 2007, the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas (El Paso) unsealed and permitted service of two complaints previously filed under seal by a qui tam relator, a former FMCH local clinic employee. The first complaint alleged that a nephrologist unlawfully employed in his practice an assistant to perform patient care tasks that the assistant was not licensed to perform and that Medicare billings by the nephrologist and FMCH therefore violated the False Claims Act. The second complaint alleged that FMCH unlawfully retaliated against the relator by constructively discharging her from employment. The United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas declined to intervene and to prosecute on behalf of the United States. On March 30, 2010, the District Court issued final judgment in favor of the defendants on all counts based on a jury verdict rendered on February 25, 2010 and on rulings of law made by the Court during the trial. The plaintiff has appealed from the District Court judgment.

Fresenius Medical Care Holdings – Qui tam complaint (Massachusetts)

On February 15, 2011, a qui tam relator’s complaint under the False Claims Act against FMCH was unsealed by order of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and served by the relator. The United States has not intervened in the case United States ex rel. Chris Drennen v. Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc., 2009 Civ. 10179 (D. Mass.). The relator’s complaint, which was first filed under seal in February 2009, alleges that FMCH seeks and receives reimbursement from government payors for serum ferritin and hepatitis B laboratory tests that are medically unnecessary or not properly ordered by a physician. FMCH has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. On March 6, 2011, the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts issued a Civil Investigative Demand seeking the production of documents related to the same laboratory tests that are the subject of the relator’s complaint. FMCH is cooperating fully in responding to the additional Civil Investigative Demand, and will vigorously contest the relator’s complaint.

Subpoena “New York”

On June 29, 2011, FMCH received a subpoena from the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (E.D.N.Y). On December 6, 2011, a single Company facility in New York received a subpoena from the OIG that was substantially similar to the one issued by the U.S. Attorney for the E.D.N.Y. These subpoenas are part of a criminal and civil investigation into relationships between retail pharmacies and outpatient dialysis facilities in the State of New York and into the reimbursement under government payor programs in New York for medications provided to patients with end-stage renal disease. Among the issues encompassed by the investigation is whether retail pharmacies may have provided or received compensation from the New York Medicaid program for pharmaceutical products that should be provided by the dialysis facilities in exchange for the New York Medicaid payment to the dialysis facilities. FMCH is cooperating in the investigation.

In the ordinary course of Fresenius Group’s operations, the Fresenius Group is subject to litigation, arbitration and investigations relating to various aspects of its business. The Fresenius Group regularly analyzes current information about such claims for probable losses and provides accruals for such matters, including estimated expenses for legal services, as appropriate.

Accrued special charge of Fresenius Medical Care for legal matters

At December 31, 2001, Fresenius Medical Care recorded a pre-tax special charge of US$258 million to reflect anticipated expenses associated with the defense and resolution of pre-Merger tax claims, Merger-related claims, and commercial insurer claims. The costs associated with the Settlement Agreement and settlements with insurers have been charged against this accrual. With the exception of the proposed US$115 million (€89 million) payment under the Settlement Agreement in the Grace Chapter 11 Proceedings, all other matters included in the special charge have been resolved. While Fresenius Medical Care believes that its remaining accrual reasonably estimates its currently anticipated costs related to the continued defense and resolution of this matter, no assurances can be given that its actual costs incurred will not exceed the amount of this accrual.

Continue reading:
30. Financial instruments

QUICKFINDER

History

Tools