4 Indest-2009-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Former Ukrainian Village Pharmacy, Inc. (UVP) president, Svitlana Kharlamova, cannot be held liable for her alleged retaliation against another pharmacist.  Former UVP employee, Yury Grenadoyor, had filed a lawsuit accusing Kharlamova of participating in a scheme to waive Medicare co-payments.  On December 16, 2016, the lawsuit accusing Kharlamova for retaliating against Grenadoyor was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber.  Ukrainian Village Pharmacy, Inc., is located in Chicago, Illinois, and was purchased by CVS.

Appellate Court had Previously Dismissed Part of Case.

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had previously dismissed the majority of the allegations, but left the retaliation claim.  The trial court judge, Judge Leinenweber, said the retaliation claim did not apply to Kharlamova because she was a partial owner of UVP and therefore, she individually, was not considered to be the employer under the FCA.

UVP Sold To CVS.

Grenadyor was looking to recover some of the money that Kharlamova earned when the pharmacy sold to CVS in 2010, according to the opinion.

Judge Leinenweber wrote, “Grenadyor cites a plethora of related authority to argue that he should be able to collect from her for the dissolved entity’s liabilities. This is all irrelevant, because it fails to address why Kharlamova should be liable in the first place as an individual under the FCA or IWRPA.”  IWRPA stands for the Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act.

The lawsuit was filed in 2009 and claimed that UVP and several other pharmacies, largely controlled by the same family, forgave copays and did not tell Medicaid or Medicare.  The pharmacies still wanted the maximum reimbursement from the government, which could possibly be seen has a kickback because it increased their sales at the government’s expense.

Judge Keeps Retaliation Claim.

The Seventh Circuit upheld an earlier ruling from 2014 by Judge Leinenweber dismissing the case against all defendants, but kept in tact the retaliation claim. A plea from Grenadyor for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case was not accepted by the court. The retaliation allegation was left against Kharlamova and one more individual, Vasily Shevchuk.

Judge Leinenweber dismissed the claims against Kharlamova, but threatened to withdraw an earlier default judgement entered against Shevchuck for failing to respond to the lawsuit.

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Howk, Drew. “Seventh Circuit: ‘Information and Belief’ Insufficient Under 9 (b).” False Claims Act Defense. (December 4, 2016). Web.

“United States Grenadyor v. Ukrainian Village Pharmacy Inc.” FindLaw. (December 3, 2014). Web.

Corso, Jessica. “Pharmacy President Dropped From FCA Kickback Suit.” Law360. (December 16, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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