False Claims and Anti-Kickback Defendants Should Insist on Discovery from the Whistleblower/Relator

One arrow in the quiver for healthcare providers sued for violations of false claims and anti-kickback statutes is pressing for discovery from the whistleblower/relator, including a deposition of the relator.  The failure of the whistleblower to comply with the discovery obligations could result in meaningful sanctions, including dismissal.

In Guthrie v. A Plus Home Health Care, Inc. et al, 0:12-cv-60629-WPD (S.D. FL), the relator, William Guthrie, sued a home health care provider, its seven doctors, and their spouses, alleging that the doctors and their spouses implemented a fraudulent scheme of compensation and referral payments resulting in violations of the False Claims Act, the Stark Act, and the federal Anti-Kickback Statute.

On December 16, 2014, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurana Snow, submitted a report recommending, among other things, that the Court grant a Motion for Sanctions filed by two sets of doctor/spouse defendants (who had not settled their claims), and, as a sanction for the relator’s failure to comply with an earlier Order of the Court requiring the relator to appear for a deposition, dismiss the action without prejudice, with attorneys’ fees and expenses relating to the sanctions proceedings to be borne by the relator.

Judge Snow’s recommendation demonstrates that defendants in an action for violations of false claims and anti-kickback laws should vigorously defend their actions, including pressing for discovery from the relator.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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