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Dan Detton, Gore Medical, & the Miraculous Vascular Stent: Illusions and Reality (Part 3)

December 24, 2012

Such a seemingly impressive resume Dan recounted over the years! Earning a B.A. and an M.S. in social psychology at the University of Utah, starting a Ph.D. program there but dropping out short of completion in defense of more humanistic values. He studied under some distinguished professors, big names in social psychology and sociology. He seemed to remember much from his professors and could quote them decades later. Director of Law Enforcement Planning for the Salt Lake City Police Department. Designing innovative youth delinquency prevention programs. Assistant Administrator at Holy Cross Hospital. Helped develop an amazing artificial artery—a cardiac vascular stent—made from expanded Teflon while working for Bill Gore (the developer of Gore-Tex and other products made from expanded Teflon). The stent, as Dan explained it to me, had a lattice-like structure that caused bodily tissues to intertwine with it, like ivy in a bower, vastly reducing the incidence of the body’s rejection of a foreign object. At lest one professional journal pronounced it “miraculous”. Later he dropped out of the dehumanizing money-obsessed corporate rat-race in favor of travel, of renovating a historic one hundred year old log cabin, being a school psychologist, and then inventing his own jobs, working for himself, being true to himself, carving out his own unique path in the world as an expression of his own values, instead of pimping for someone else’s ideas. Leaving for something new every time the challenge was gone.

He lectured frequently, at great length, to anyone around about the real meaning of “spirituality,” about “honesty, ethics, and integrity” and how so many humanistic values were disappearing or becoming corrupt in our modern society. Dan was almost always talkative, gregarious, entertaining, and engaging company.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t moved by the confidence, energy, and enthusiasm he radiated when he expounded on these themes. Despite my misgiving over some of his attitudes I admired his resilience, his perennial optimism, his not being a subservient employee, dependent on others to give him a job. At a minimum, he always had an intriguing, counter-intuitive perspective on almost everything so that even when I disagreed with him, I found his views thought-provoking and stimulating. I saw him as sort of an outlaw without being a criminal, irresponsible, or dishonest. He marched to a different drummer in service to what he viewed as a higher set of values and greater integrity. He was unconventional but appeared “response-able” in the deepest sense.

It is truly amazing how convincting someone can be wehn they radiate limitless self-assurance, confidence, conviction, enthusaism and certainty–regardless of the acutal merits of what they are saying. It is ture: it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Dan knew how to turn on the charm and be persuasive, radiating energy,conviction, and entusiasm while he spoke, even whaen what he said ws either a clihe or a dubious assertion. I was not the only one moved by this, who found his magnetism, his semblence of charisma a powerful and often persuaive influence.

Only gradually, in bits and pieces over a long time, did elements of a counter-narrative slip out. Did he drop out of the Ph.D. program on his own accord–or was he asked to leave because his work didn’t meet standards? Apparently he had a conflict with faculty that resulted in his leaving. His impressive job titles were usually due to his then-wife’s family connections and every one lasted less than a year (you can’t step out on the boss’s daughter and keep your job–and Dan was never faithful to his wives) before he was terminated. The impressive job offers had all ended by his early thirties. His ten years as a perpetual student from age 18 to 28 (1960-1970) reflected his parent’s wealth as much as his academic aptitude. According to his sister (his only sibling) his parents gave him “everything he wanted,” including several sports cars he coveted in high school. His mother died of cancer, leaving a substantial trust fund, when he was 28, and he dropped out of college then. He never returned.

Dan told me he met Bill Gore by chance on a Utah ski lift and chatted him up. Gore responded:“I want to hire you. I don’t yet know where I’m going to use you but I want you on my team.” I can believe that. Dan once said, ‘I can talk my way into anything I want. And I can talk my way out of anything.” I knew by then he damn near could. He was very articulate and knew how to quickly size people up and then turn on the charm. Yet his employment for W.L. Gore and Associates, Inc. didn’t last that long either. According to later court testimony he was fired in April 1974, at age 31 after little more than one year. Over the succeeding years he told me of testifying in court in a patent dispute with a rival company and he expressed anger that his central contribution to the stent had not been recognized and financially rewarded.

Around 2001 or 2002 he told me the Gore attorneys contacted him, wanted him to testify in a new patent dispute in which tens of millions of dollars in royalties were at stake. The attorneys for one side hired him because—it slowly emerged between the lines—he was willing to admit under oath that his previous testimony was “false and misleading” and that “what really happened was…” Dan demanded to know, ‘What’s in it for me? It will cost you.” Dan told me the law firm countered that while it would appear improper to directly pay him a large sum for his testimony, they would hire him as a $250 an hour “consultant” ostensibly to “review documents and depositions.” Boxes of what appeared to be transcripts and depositions, with cover letters on the letterhead of a Manhattan law firm, were soon being delivered by DSL. Dan would later gloat that he had been paid $130,000 (and counting) for about 500 hours of such “work” spread out over two years’ time. In court he admitted to perjury, to giving “false and misleading testimony” in the past “out of a misguided sense of loyalty to my then-employer.”

Wow! I thought he was a damn lucky bastard. Perjury, especially in federal court, is a felony, after all. Many people get away with it but many others go to the federal penitentiary. Dan got paid $130,000 (one hundred thirty thousand dollars) for admitting to it.* He was generously rewarded for confessing to a serious crime–while escaping all negative consequences. This guy is like a cat, I thought. He always lands on his feet no matter what. (I guess the statute of limitations on perjury in a civil trial must have run out).
Did he see how lucky he was? Was he grateful? Did he feel blessed? No. He was angry, resentful and envious that he was not well-off like his former co-workers who stayed at Gore Medical, worked their way up, and now earn fat salaries, presumably share patent royalties, and have good retirement packages. He voiced envy, rage, and resentment towards them, too.

Not for the last time, he revealed himself as a perpetrator who believed he was a victim.

The contradictions just kept getting more extreme, more glaring over time.
*in court in 2007 he testified he was paid between $60, 000 and $70,000 total, not $130,000. But this was on the occasion of him being confronted on perjury and admitting to it. The judge concluded he was a perjurer and unreliable witness, both in the past and in the current case, where his testimony was contradicted by “three more reliable witnesses” in the words of the judge.

[Several rival companies including IMPRA, Bard, and Medtronics contested Gore’s patent on the stent over the years with mixed results. See for example: “Blood Money” by Alison Frankel in The American Lawyer online, November 2009. . Also inequitableconduct.pdf for an 83-page ruling issued in December 2007]

Several Gore employees testified Dan’s only role was a minor one, of a “go-between” or messenger keeping various team members informed of what the others were doing. He had, in fact, no background in medicine, medical devices, or any kind of technology at all.

In the US Court of Appeals, Judge Amjansa, as late as February 10,2012, ruled “I am not determining Mr. Deton’s credibility; he did that for us. He admitted that he lied in the testimony that he gave in support of the Gore employees who founded the company IMPRA…[T]his is not an appellate court assessment of credibility–there is no credibility to assess.”
Bard v. Gore
US Court of Appeals
Fedeal Court
February 10, 2012

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