Judge calls whistle-blower a 'bounty hunter,' dismisses FCA suit against pharmacy

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging Ukrainian Village Pharmacy in Chicago violated the False Claims Act by giving customers caviar and Russian language TV Guides, as well as waiving co-payments, according to a Mondaq report.

The lawsuit was brought under the qui tam, or whistle-blower, provisions of the False Claims Act. The court dismissed most of the whistle-blower's claims because he failed to meet the threshold of identifying a single person who had received a gift valued at more than $50.

The court's displeasure with the whistle-blower was revealed in its opinion, which was authored by Judge Richard A. Posner, who described the whistle-blower as a "bounty hunter," according to the report.

In the case, the court addressed the implied certification theory, an alternative False Claims Act theory. Under this approach to false claims liability, the bill submitted by the pharmacy to the government is treated as an "implicit assurance" that the bill is "a lawful claim for payment," according to the report. Under this theory, the pharmacy would have provided a "false assurance" when it billed the government for drugs sold to customers who had received the gifts, which the plaintiff claimed were kickbacks.

However, the implied certification theory did not hold water, and the court requested specific instances where the pharmacy had submitted claims to a government program for patients who had received a kickback. The whistle-blower was unable to provide this information, and the court affirmed the dismissal of the lawsuit, according to the report.

More articles on the False Claims Act:

Rite Aid pays $2.99M for allegedly using gift cards to get Medicare, Medicaid business 
 Identifying trends in False Claims Act enforcement 
Dozens of physicians allegedly involved in $130M kickback scheme

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