By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) ― On Thursday, 50 people treated at St. Joseph Medical Center filed new lawsuits sparked by a federal investigation that found they may have undergone unnecessary heart surgeries.

Mike Hellgren has the WJZ exclusive.

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These lawsuits allege negligence and fraud against St. Joseph Medical Center, and the man who was once one of its most prominent physicians.

In these new lawsuits, patients claim Dr. Mark Midei and St. Joseph Medical Center were careless and put them at risk after placing stents in their arteries—to clear blockages that were not severe enough to warrant the procedures.

“This was in direct response to the $22 million settlement reached between the U.S. government and St. Joe’s last week,” said Jay Miller, the lawyer who filed the 50 lawsuits.

In that bombshell settlement, St. Joseph Medical Center did not admit liability but agreed to give millions to the government for paying illegal kickbacks for patient referrals and getting federal money for what the government called “unnecessary stents performed by Dr. Midei.”

“Any patient you pick off of this pile, I have had three top-notch interventional cardiologists from the finest institutions, including Yale, review their angiogram films and determine—independent of each other—that they each received a stent they didn’t need,” Miller said.

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Midei has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, including during a press conference last month.

“I’m confident in everything that I’ve done, every decision that I’ve made,” said Midei.

Initial concern arose when more than 500 patients got letters from the hospital saying they may not have needed stents among them. Susan Cararri from Parkville spoke to WJZ for our investigation.

“It just doesn’t seem right,” Cararri said. “It just doesn’t seem right.”

The hospital issued this statement in response to these new lawsuits: “St. Joseph Medical Center wants patients who believe they have a claim to know that its door is open to productive, reasonable and serious discussions with their attorneys. Talks between SJMC and plaintiffs’ attorneys are ongoing, and SJMC has invited all plaintiffs’ attorneys to submit supporting medical information so each claim can be properly and fairly evaluated.”

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The federal settlement leaves open the possibility of criminal charges in this investigation.