East Texas Lab Agrees to Pay $3.75 Million to Settle False Claims Suit
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On December 14, 2016, owners of an East Texas clinical laboratory who overcharged Medicare for falsified driving mileage bills have agreed to pay the U.S. government $3.75 million to settle a whistle blower’s False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit. The suit was brought by a former employee, the U.S. attorney’s office announced.
Submitting False Claims.
Texas-based Elite Lab Services LLC (Elite) and its owners, Gerard and Suzanne Dengler, reportedly settled claims brought under the False Claims Act (FCA) by plaintiff Karen Malcolm. The Denglers admitted that from approximately 2010 to 2014 they submitted inflated employee mileage claims to Medicare and billed the government health agency knowing it does not pay for mileage claims in excess of actual miles driven.
According to court documents, the defendants employed phlebotomists who traveled around East Texas to collect blood samples and transport those samples back to Elite for lab services. For several years, the defendants at Elite knowingly submitted or caused to be submitted inflated mileage calculations beyond the actual distances driven by the employees.
The Whistle Blower.
In 2014, the whistle blower Malcolm, filed the suit alleging that Elite had defrauded Medicare. She claimed that she approached the Denglers in the spring of that year to voice concerns about the billing practices, but the issue was not corrected. She then resigned from the company as a result. The U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed that the government intervened in the suit for purposes of the settlement.
In an agreed final judgment, the parties said that the defendants relinquished and waived all right and title to more than $2.5 million in cash held in a collection of several financial accounts and sales of real property that they owned to satisfy the settlement in the instant case.
As a result of the deal, Malcolm will receive a 21 percent share of the recovery, totaling $787,500, authorities said.
Medicare and Medicaid fraud cases brought on by whistleblowers are unfortunately becoming more common. To read about the serious repercussions of cases like this, click here to read one of my prior blogs.
Contact an Experienced Health Law Attorney to Assist in Whistleblower/Qui Tam Cases.
If you have knowledge of false claims being filed against Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE/CHAMPUS or any other type of government program, please contact us, and we will be happy to assist you. Our law firm represents health professionals and health care organizations almost exclusively. Yet, we have been involved in a number of whistle blower/qui tam cases, in which we represent the person who files the claim, as well as in defending them in certain cases.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Wolf, Alex. “East Texas Lab Pays $3.75M For Falsified Medicare Billing.” Law360. (December 14, 2016). Web.
“Tyler lab, owners to pay $3.75 million for filing false Medicare claims.” Longview Business Journal. (December 14, 2016). Web.
“East Texas lab company, owners to pay $3.75M for false Medicare claims.” KLTV-ABC. (December 14, 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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