A Florida federal judge has trebled a $115 million damages award for the government in a whistleblower case to $347 million. This came after a jury found that the operators of 53 nursing facilities submitted claims to Medicare and Medicaid for unnecessary care. U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday affirmed the jury’s verdict against four defendants – CMC II LLC; Salus Rehabilitation LLC; 207 Marshall Drive Operations LLC; and 803 Oak Street Operations LLC – and trebled the damages under the False Claims Act to more than $347 million. The judge ordered Sea Crest and CMC to pay $291,160,608 to the U.S. government and $39,897,291 to the Florida government. Salus Rehabilitation will have to pay $484,000 to the federal government; 207 Marshall Drive and 803 Oak Street will have to pay $6,266,424 and $10,055,961, respectively, to the U.S.
The jury had found that the four Defendants had artificially increased the amount of resources they claimed their patients needed in order to get more money from Medicare and Medicaid. The most affected defendant was CMC II, as successor to Sea Crest Health Care Management, doing business as LaVie Management Services of Florida, which submitted 123 false Medicare claims using more than 130 false statements and the jury said should be held liable for $109.8 million in damages.
The jury found that Oak Street, which was doing business as Governor’s Creek Health and Rehabilitation Center, submitted four false claims, backed up by about 50 false records, and is liable for $3.3 million in damages. Marshall Drive, which was doing business as Marshall Health and Rehabilitation Center, followed closely with one false claim backed up by about two dozen false records and is liable for $2 million in damages, the jury said. Salus, which was doing business as LaVie Rehab, submitted 44 false claims backed up by an equal number of fraudulent records, was not required to pay anything, the jury said. I am not sure why they won’t have to pay.
The lawsuit was brought by whistleblower Angela Ruckh, a nurse who worked at two of the facilities. Ms. Ruckh is represented by The Cohen Law Group, Kellogg Huber Hansen Todd Evans & Figel PLLC and Delaney Kester LLP. The case is U.S. ex rel. Ruckh v. CMC II LLC et al. (case number 8:11-cv-01303) in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
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