Howard Root started his career as a corporate lawyer but soon turned into an entrepreneur and never looked back. He founded the Minnesota medical device company Vascular Solutions in 1997 and continued to run it for 20 years, inventing and launching over 100 new cardiovascular devices and creating over 650 U.S. jobs along the way. In February 2017, Howard sold Vascular Solutions to Teleflex for $1 billion.
The motivation behind the sale of Vascular Solutions is a true-life legal nightmare. It started out as a false accusation by a disgruntled former employee, and culminated five years later in a San Antonio courtroom with “not guilty” verdicts on all charges after a five-week criminal trial. Even a single guilty verdict would have excluded Vascular Solutions from selling any of its medical devices in the U.S. and sent Howard to prison for years. This was a federal criminal prosecution over the words spoken by a few of the company’s salespeople about an FDA-cleared medical device that constituted only 0.1% of the company’s sales and never harmed a single patient, yet required a defense team of 121 lawyers at a cost of $25 million. And then, at trial, the defense did not call a single witness to testify and a juror emailed afterward:
“What the federal government did to you, your company and your employees is nothing short of criminal.”
Even though he was exonerated, after the trial Howard made the decision to sell Vascular Solutions and retire rather than continue to assume the risks of a medical device public company CEO in this environment. In his retirement, Howard speaks out about the criminalization of America and the unchecked prosecutorial misconduct within the Department of Justice. He has written articles about his experience as a criminal defendant and the Department of Justice policies which trample justice in the search for convictions.
Howard is the author of Cardiac Arrest: Five Heart-Stopping Years as a CEO on the Feds’ Hit-List which documents his five-year legal battle against the false criminal charges that threatened to destroy his company and send him to prison, and how he stood up to the Feds’ attack and won.