Today the United States Justice Department and the State of Tennessee announced the $3,246,000 resolution of a qui tam lawsuit (i.e. a whistleblower lawsuit) with Wellbound of Memphis, LLC, a joint venture that operates a dialysis clinic in Memphis, Tennessee. The lawsuit was filed pursuant to the federal and Tennessee False Claims Act statutes by a nephrologist employed by one of the joint venture partners. The whistleblower was represented by Jerry Martin and Seth Hyatt of Barrett Johnston Martin & Garrison, LLC. The joint venture partners in Wellbound include Satellite Healthcare, Inc., a non-profit dialysis company based in California, and UT Medical Group, Inc., a large medical practice in the Memphis, Tennessee area.
In the lawsuit, the whistleblower alleged that partners in the joint venture made illegal inducements to several Memphis-area nephrologists in exchange for patient referrals, a practice that violates the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and federal False Claims Act. These alleged inducements included selling ownership interests in the joint venture at below market rates. The majority of the patients being referred to the Wellbound dialysis clinic were Medicare patients, and Medicare has a strict policy against paying any claims that have been tainted by an unlawful kickback.
“This settlement sends a strong message that a doctor’s referrals should not be for sale,” said Jerry Martin of Barrett Johnston Martin & Garrison, LLC. Martin added, “the Medicare system and its millions of beneficiaries depend on doctors to do what’s best for the patient. Offering financial incentives to induce referrals undermines that entire system.”
Martin, who served as the presidentially appointed United States Attorney from 2010-2013, focuses his practice on representing whistleblowers who wish to come forward and expose fraud on state and federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The False Claims Act provides a mechanism for whistleblowers to report fraud and share in the government’s recovery.
To learn more about our Whistleblower & Qui Tam practice click here. Our firm is located in Nashville, Tennessee but we represent whistleblowers all around the country. Call us today at (615) 244-2202.