Erlanger Medical Center Kickback Suit Dismissed Due to Previous Public Disclosures

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A Tennessee federal judge has dismissed a whistle-blower's False Claims Act claim against Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Erlanger Medical Center, ruling the suit was barred due to previous public disclosures about the alleged kickback agreements involved.

In the lawsuit, the whistle-blower alleged Erlanger Medical Center was involved in a kickback scheme that involved the medical center entering into agreements with physician groups or physicians at amounts in excess of market value in return for the physicians providing referrals to the medical center. 

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Curtis L. Collier invoked the public disclosure bar to dismiss the FCA claims against Erlanger Medical Center. The rule bars a relator's qui tam action if the fraud alleged in the whistle-blower's FCA complaint has previously been disclosed to the public.

According to Judge Collier, local media reports and other lawsuits had already documented Erlanger Medical Center's alleged patient referral agreements with local physicians well before the FCA complaint was filed in 2010.

Although the public disclosures were not identical to the allegations made in the FCA suit, the judge ruled the disclosures were enough to put the government on notice of the fraudulent activity and that is enough to dismiss the claim under the public disclosure bar. 

More Articles on Kickback Cases:

8 Recent Legislative and Legal Developments Involving Hospitals 
Guilty Verdicts Revived in Kickback Case 
Feds Re-Charge Physician in Sacred Heart Kickback Case 

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