Fort Myers Medical Testing Facility Reaches $19 Million Whistleblower Settlement
A Fort Myers medical testing facility recently reached a $19.75 million settlement with the federal government to settle allegations the company violated the federal False Claims Act. 21st Century Oncology agreed to pay the settlement to resolve claims it overbilled Tricare, a veterans insurance program, and Medicare for urinalysis testing related to bladder cancer.
The whistleblower lawsuit alleged 21st Century Oncology ordered unnecessary tests yet billed federal insurance programs for reimbursement anyways. The company offered bonuses to doctors based on the number of tests they could send to the laboratory, according to the Department of Justice. Four urologists were implicated in the claim: Dr. Meir Daller, Dr. Steven Paletsky, Dr. David Spellberg and Dr. Robert Scappa. All of the doctors practiced in the Ft. Myers area.
The qui tam lawsuit was originally filed by a former medical assistant on behalf of the U.S. government. For her part, the whistleblower will receive a $3.2 million share of the settlement. Since 2009, the federal government has recovered more almost $17 billion from cases involving healthcare fraud against federal programs.
Qui tam whistleblower lawsuits
The False Claims Act makes it a crime to knowingly defraud or conspire to commit fraud against programs like Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, or any other federally backed program. Types of fraud against federal programs typically include over charging, double billing, healthcare fraud, and contract fraud.
The qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act are some of the most important tools the federal government uses to fight fraud. Under the Act, ordinary citizens with inside knowledge of governmental fraud, waste, and abuse are able to bring civil lawsuits against wrongdoers on behalf of the federal government.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, whistleblowers (known as relators) may be able to receive between 15 percent and 30 percent of any monies recovered for the government. Whistleblowers must be represented by an lawyer to bring claims against perpetrators of fraud.
At some point in the case, the federal government may decide to intervene and take over prosecution of the case. Cases in which the government steps in typically have a higher success rate but may result in slightly less compensation to the relator. The more valuable information the relator is able to provide the federal government, the amount of compensation awarded to the whistleblower may be higher.
Contact a Florida Lawyer Today
If you have strong, inside knowledge of fraud being committed against a federal program like Medicare or Medicaid, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Federal whistleblower laws allow relators to bring their suits under seal, meaning the plaintiff’s identity is kept a secret for a period of time.
Contact a whistleblower lawyer at The Pendas Law Firm for a confidential consultation about your case. Our experienced whistleblower lawyers can investigate the merits of your case and help ensure you are adequately compensated for your cooperation in the fight against fraud, waste, and abuse of taxpayer funded programs. We have offices in Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach.