CHICAGO — Three health plans sued Walgreens Co. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. in federal court in Illinois March 23, claiming that the nation’s largest drugstore engaged in fraud by submitting bills that inflated the prices for prescription drugs at prices the insureds would have paid if they did not have coverage (Healthnow New York Inc., et al. v. Walgreens Co., et al., No. 20-cv-01929, N.D. Ill.).
PASADENA, Calif. — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 23 reversed a ruling dismissing a woman’s False Claims Act (FCA) suit accusing a hospital of admitting elderly patients from skilled nursing facilities for medically unnecessary in-patient care to submit false bills to Medicare, finding that she was not required to plead that the doctor’s opinions to admit the patients were “objectively false” (United States ex rel. Jane Winter v. Gardens Regional Hospital and Medical Center Inc., et al., No. 18-55020, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 8986).
HOUSTON — A Texas federal judge on March 13 excluded an expert’s opinion that a doctor accused of Medicare fraud suffers from autism in a final ruling before the criminal case was put on hold by a court order deferring jury trials because of the COVID-19 outbreak (United States v. Huan Doan Ngo, No. 4:17-cr-413, S.D. Texas, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44459).
GULFPORT, Miss. — A federal jury in Mississippi on March 13 found three individuals, a critical access hospital and a management company guilty of violating the False Claims Act (FCA) when submitting fraudulent cost reports from 2004 through 2015 that resulted in Medicare suffering $10.8 million in damages (United States ex rel. James Aldridge v. Corporate Management Inc., et al., No. 16cv369-HTW-LRA, S.D. Miss.).
OCALA, Fla. — A dermatologist and a clinic on March 13 entered into an agreement with the federal government and two relators in federal court in Florida in which they agreed to pay $1.7 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act (FCA) when submitting inflated claims to Medicare for wound repairs to obtain a greater amount of reimbursement (United States, ex rel. Robert Green, et al. v. Thi Thien Nguyen Tran, No. 15-cv-60, M.D. Fla.).
NEW YORK — State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. argue in a March 13 brief filed in federal court in New York that arguments from defendants seeking dismissal of the insurers’ lawsuit accusing them of submitting false claims for treatment under the state’s no-fault law are premature because they are fact-intensive and based on affidavits that were submitted along with the defendants’ motions to dismiss (State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., et al. v. Francoise Jules Parisien M.D., et al., No. 18-cv-00289-ILG-ST, E.D. N.Y.).
ST. LOUIS — A federal judge in Missouri on March 2 denied a man’s motion to vacate a 51-month prison sentence and order requiring him to pay $2.2 million in restitution after he pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud for organizing a scheme that involved the submission of bills to Medicare for medically unnecessary ankle-foot orthotics for elderly patients, holding that his counsel did not act ineffectively when negotiating the restitution amount (Donald Brian Havey v. United States, No. 17-CV-00852 JAR, E.D. Mo., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35304).
LAS VEGAS — A federal judge in Nevada ruled March 4 that a relator in a lawsuit brought under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act (FCA) can have 29 percent, or slightly more than $1 million, from proceeds the government obtained following an audit performed on health care facilities accused of fraudulently billing Medicare, finding that the proceeds were an alternate remedy that she could have pursued as part of her lawsuit (United States, ex rel. Cecilia Guardiola v. Renown Health, et al., No. 12-cv-00295, D. Nev., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37815).
CHICAGO — A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 13 affirmed a man’s six-year prison sentence for violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and interstate transportation of stolen property for his role in a scheme that partially involved defrauding insurance companies but overturned a $1.8 million order of restitution, finding that the judge failed to adequately demarcate the scheme (United States v. Hamza Dridi, No. 18-3334, 7th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 8020).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A 5-2 Ohio Supreme Court on March 9 found that a trial court judge did not err when resentencing a woman who was found guilty on counts of insurance fraud, making false alarm and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, holding that she should not have had an expectation of finality in her sentencing during the direct appeals process and because the trial court could resentence her de novo (State v. Eva Christian, No. 2017-1691, Ohio Sup., 2020 Ohio LEXIS 599).
WARREN, Ohio — An Ohio appeals court panel on March 9 affirmed a cocaine dealer’s conviction for one count of complicity in the commission of insurance fraud, finding that while there was no evidence that he was involved in the actual submission of the fraudulent claim, there was sufficient evidence that he supported, assisted and cooperated with the scheme to steal a woman’s personal property so she could file a claim with her insurance company (State v. Todd Masters II, No. 2019-L-037, Ohio App., 11th Dist., Lake Co., 2020 Ohio App. LEXIS 789).
CINCINNATI — A Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 5 overturned a cardiologist’s conviction and sentencing for health care fraud for allegedly implanting medically unnecessary stents in patients with minimal arterial blockages, finding that the government’s failure to provide the defendant with a copy of a letter containing the results of an independent review paid for by a hospital where the procedures were performed violated the doctor’s right to due process under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (United States v. Richard E Paulus M.D., No. 19-5532, 6th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 6929).
MACON, Ga. — A certified fire investigator can testify as an expert for a mobile-home owner about the lack of evidence of arson at his home after it was destroyed in a 2016 blaze, a Georgia federal judge ruled Feb. 26 in an insurance coverage dispute (David T. Dobbs, et al. v. Allstate Indemnity Company, No. 5:18-cv-00309, M.D. Ga., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32518).
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on Feb. 26 sentenced two pharmacy owners to 12 years in prison each, ordered them to each pay $11.8 million in restitution and ordered immediate partial restitution of $500,000 for fraudulently billing Medicare and private insurer Cigna for prescription medications from 2012 to 2015 (United States v. Aleksandr Suris, et al., No. 17cr420, C.D. Calif.).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The federal government and AseraCare Inc. on Feb. 26 stipulated to dismiss a False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit filed in Alabama federal court that accused the hospice facilities owner of submitting fraudulent claims to Medicare for treatment of elderly patients who were improperly diagnosed as terminally ill after the parties announced that they had reached a settlement (United States v. AseraCare Inc., et al., No. 12-cv-0245, N.D. Ala.).
NEWARK, N.J. — A federal judge in New Jersey on Feb. 24 refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Government Employees Insurance Co. and three of its affiliates against three clinics and employees accused of submitting $2.7 million in fraudulent bills for no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) benefits between 2013 and 2019, finding that the insurer sufficiently alleged claims for violations of the New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (IFPA) and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, fraud and unjust enrichment (Government Employees Insurance Co., et al. v. Adams Chiropractic Center P.C., et al., No. 19-20633, D. N.J., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30753).
BOSTON — A First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 20 upheld a doctor’s conviction on charges of making false statements in connection with health care benefits programs and conspiracy to make false statements, finding that a federal judge in Massachusetts did not err when denying the defendant’s motion to suppress e-mails that were obtained through a search warrant and when instructing the jury about a missing witness (United States v. Mousfafa Moataz Aboshady, No. 19-1232, 1st Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 5198).
PHILADELPHIA — The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Feb. 19 that Guardian Elder Care Holdings Inc. and four of its related entities agreed to pay $15.4 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act (FCA) when billing Medicare and another federal health benefits program for rehabilitation therapy services at their skilled nursing facilities that were medically unnecessary (United States, ex rel. Kraus v. Guardian Elder Care Holdings Inc., et al., No. 15-cv-6850, E.D. Pa.).
DENVER — A 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 7 upheld a hospital’s summary judgment award in a False Claims Act (FCA) suit accusing it of submitting fraudulent information regarding patients’ arrival times and its compliance with the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA), holding that the plaintiff was unable to show that the alleged misrepresentations affected the government’s decision to pay the claims (United States, ex rel. Stacey L. Janssen v. Lawrence Memorial Hospital, No. 19-3011, 10th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 3809).
LOS ANGELES — The Government Employees Insurance Co. (GEICO) and three of its affiliates on Feb. 12 filed a lawsuit in California federal court accusing a windshield repair company and its owners of engaging in a fraudulent scheme to bill the insurer for expensive replacement windshields they never purchased and that they performed the work without a license to do so (Government Employees Insurance Co., et al. v. Winaffix Auto Glass Inc., et al., No. 20-cv-01401, C.D. Calif.).