FCA NOW

An Ambulance Provider’s Long Road to Settlement

Vanessa J. Szalapski

On June 20, 2019, more than six years after the case was first set into motion by the Relator, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland announced in a press release that Hart to Heart Ambulance Services, Inc. (“Hart to Heart”) settled a false claims act case—which alleged that it submitted false claims to Medicare for ambulance transports that were not medically necessary—for...

Alleged Violations of Government Data Security Requirements Yield FCA Settlement

T. Augustine Lo

On May 31, 2019, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister of the District of Kansas announced a $250,000 settlement with Coffey Health System to resolve a False Claims Act case.  The case arose from allegations that the hospital’s patient data security was insufficient to justify an incentive payment from the federal government.  The two whistleblowers each will receive $50,000 from the settlement. In 2016, two whistleblowers filed...

$34 Million Reversal: First Circuit Overturns Its Precedent and Redirects Relator’s FCA Award to Another

Siena Caruso

Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit overturned its own precedent to hold the FCA’s first-to-file rule is “non-jurisdictional.” In so doing, the First Circuit flipped the district court’s award of $34 million from one whistleblower to another. United States v. Millenium Labs., Inc., No. 17-1106, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 13506 (1st Cir. May 6, 2019). The appeal arises out...

Supreme Court Settles Circuit Split and Reads the False Claims Act Statute of Limitations Provision Broadly in Boon to Relators

Ben Kappelman

On May 13, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Hunt, No. 18–325, and resolved a circuit split regarding the statute of limitations for an FCA claim brought by a relator between six and ten years after a violation, but less than three years after the government knew or should have known the relevant facts. The Court held...

Sutter Health LLC Pays $30 Million to Settle Alleged Overpayment of Medicare Advantage Funds, but Faces Similar Allegations in Separate Qui Tam

Erin Conti

On April 12, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Sutter Health LLC—along with its affiliates Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation, Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation, Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, and Sutter Medical Foundation—would pay $30 million to settle allegations they provided inaccurate information about Medicare Advantage Plan beneficiaries in order to receive inflated payments. The settlement stems from a coordinated effort between the U.S. Department...

Fifth Circuit Affirms: Res Judicata Bars FCA Retaliation Suit

Briana Al Taqatqa

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit considered an appeal from the Eastern District of Louisiana, which dismissed appellants’ FCA retaliation claims based on res judicata. Res judicata, or “claim preclusion,” is the principle that a matter may not be re-litigated once it has been decided on the merits. Appellants had previously brought employment discrimination actions against Lockheed Martin alleging they...

Supreme Court Considers Whether to Extend FCA Statute of Limitation

Alan Iverson

On Tuesday, March 19, the Supreme Court considered whether to extend the FCA’s alternate 10-year statute of limitations to cases in which the government does not intervene.   The case, Cochise Consultancy Inc. v. United States, ex rel. Hunt, involves a whistleblower’s qui tam action alleging that two defense contractors defrauded the government. The case centers on the FCA’s two statutes of limitations. One allows lawsuits...

Another Qui Tam Suit Alleging a Scheme to Defraud by Reporting Inflated Drug Prices Survives Motion to Dismiss

Nathan Ebnet

Within the last five years, district courts in the Seventh Circuit have repeatedly denied motions to dismiss qui tam lawsuits brought under the FCA that allege a scheme to defraud government health programs by reporting inflated “usual and customary” prices for prescription drugs. By contrast, at least one district court in the Sixth Circuit recently granted such a motion under Rule 9(b). On March 7,...

Tribal Employees Cannot Shake FCA Claims Pleaded with Particularity When Sued in Their Personal Capacities

Caitlin Hull

Seven years after filing their initial complaint, a Montana federal court ruled that plaintiffs’ FCA action—at least on some claims and against some defendants—may finally proceed. Cain v. Salish Kootenai Coll., Inc., No. CV-12-181-M-BMM, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26955 (D. Mont. Feb. 20, 2019). In 2012, plaintiffs, as relators in a qui tam action, alleged that a tribal college, its board of directors, and various...

DOJ Levels False Claims Act at Pharmacies to Combat Opioid Crisis

Lauren Roso

This month the Department of Justice brought a “first of its kind” action against two pharmacies, their owner, and three pharmacists for allegedly dispensing and billing Medicare for prescriptions in violation of both the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and the False Claims Act (FCA).  See United States v. Oakley Pharmacy, Inc., et al., No. 2:19-cv-00009 (M.D. Tenn).  The action, seeking both injunctive relief and civil...