On June 16, 2023, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in United States ex rel. Polansky v. Executive Health Resources, affirming that courts should grant DOJ motions to dismiss over relator objections “in all but the most exceptional cases.” Prior coverage of this case is here and here.
Earlier this month, a federal court unsealed a qui tam complaint against several New Jersey hospitals, management services organizations, and the hospitals’ Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer for allegedly refusing to return CARES Act Provider Relief Fund (“PRF”) money for which the hospitals knew they were not eligible, and for allegedly using PRF money for impermissible purposes. See United States ex rel. Singh v. Hudson Hospital OPCO, LLC, No 21-cv-19788 (D.N.J. Nov. 5, 2021). This case is noteworthy because it is one of the first unsealed qui tam complaints raising allegations about ineligibility for, and misuse of, PRF payments.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced a $5.9 million FCA settlement resolving allegations that Genotox Laboratories Ltd., a toxicology and pharmacogenetics testing laboratory: 1) violated the Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”), and thereby caused the submission of false claims, through commission-based compensation arrangements with its independent contractors, and 2) submitted claims to federal healthcare programs for unnecessary drug tests. In parallel proceedings, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas and Genotox entered into an eighteen-month Deferred Prosecution Agreement to resolve a criminal investigation into the same conduct. The settlement highlights DOJ’s ongoing interest in pursuing independent contractor arrangements that do not fit within a safe harbor to the AKS, where such relationships are also accompanied by conduct that traditionally attracts enforcement scrutiny, such as submission of claims for medically unnecessary services.
On March 28, 2023, the Sixth Circuit issued a notable decision rejecting broad theories from DOJ and relators about (1) the definition of remuneration under the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) and (2) the causation requirement for AKS violations that trigger FCA liability. See United States ex rel. Martin v. Hathaway, No. 22-1463 (6th Cir. 2023). On the first, the court held that “remuneration” under the AKS “covers just payments and other transfers of value,” not “any act that may be valuable to another.” On the second, the court held that FCA liability attaches only if the claim would not have been submitted but for the AKS violation.
A relator who scours public patent filings to “uncover” an alleged fraud against the government cannot avoid the False Claims Act’s public disclosure bar by claiming to be an original source, the Northern District of California held this week.
In a decision issued last week, the Second Circuit was faced with the novel legal theory that use of flawed artificial intelligence systems can constitute a “worthless service” for purposes of FCA liability. See Doe v. eviCore Healthcare MSI, LLC, No. 22-530-CV, 2023 WL 2249577 (2d Cir. Feb. 28, 2023). The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal for failure to satisfy the heightened Rule 9(b) pleading standard but did not reach the merits, leaving open the question of whether such a theory is viable under the FCA.
Earlier this month the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts announced a $100,000 FCA settlement resolving novel allegations that a pharmaceutical company violated the Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”), and thereby caused the submission of false claims, through incentive compensation payments to its employees for conduct outside the scope of the employee relationship.
On February 7, 2023, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Brian M. Boynton, announced that the Civil Division recovered over $2.2 billion in settlements and judgments under the False Claims Act (“FCA”) for fiscal year 2022. Detailed statistics on FCA recoveries from 1986 through FY 2022 are available here.