Gov’t and IPC Continue FCA Fight In Court

The Government and IPC The Hospitalist Company, Inc. (“IPC”) continue their False Claims Act (“FCA“) fight in court, now disputing the scope of discovery in light of the Northern District of Illinois’ partial denial of IPC’s motion to dismiss (detailed by Duane Morris here).  The Government has moved to strike certain of IPC’s general objections to discovery: (1) IPC’s objection to producing documents from IPC’s nationwide operations and (2) IPC’s objection to producing documents dated after December 31, 2010 (“Motion“).

As detailed in Duane Morris’ earlier alert on this case, United States ex rel. Oughatiyan v. IPC The Hospitalist Co., Case No. 1:09-cv-05418, was filed as a qui tam action on September 1, 2009 by relator Bijan Oughatiyan who worked for IPC as a hospitalist, and alleged various violations of the FCA.  The Government intervened on December 6, 2013, and filed a complaint in intervention on June 16, 2014 against IPC and over twenty of its subsidiaries and affiliates, seeking damages and civil penalties under the FCA and several common law theories.

The Government’s complaint alleges that IPC knowingly and systematically billed Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal payors for higher and more expensive medical services than those that were actually performed, and that it did so by upcoding services rendered by IPC physicians. The Government alleges several facts in support of this conclusion including, for example, that IPC had a corporate policy of incentivizing physicians to maximize revenue for each patient encounter, and ignored data allegedly demonstrating that IPC’s billing rates were outside national norms.

IPC moved to dismiss the Government’s claims, and on February 17, 2015 the Court granted in part and denied in part that motion.  The Court found that the Government sufficiently alleged standing and also adequately pled its claims against IPC, but failed to adequately plead claims against IPC’s subsidiaries and affiliates.

The Government has now moved to strike IPC’s above two general objections, claiming that “IPC’s objections are based on the faulty premise that this case should be limited to the geographic and temporal scope of the specific representative false claims alleged in the complaint.”   Memo. in Support of United States’ Mot. to Strike General Objections & Compel Discovery Responses, Dkt. 77, p. 3 (filed May 21, 2015). The basis for IPC’s general objection as to the geographic scope of discovery is that the Government’s complaint only contains specific factual allegations as to seven states.   (Id.)   The basis for IPC’s general objection to the temporal scope of discovery is that the Government’s “Complaint contains no specific factual allegations beyond December 31, 2010.”  (Id., Ex. A, p. 4.)

While IPC’s response to the Motion has not yet been filed, the issues presented by the Motion are important to all FCA defendants and will be closely watched as the Court determines how far the Government can go in seeking broad discovery in FCA cases.

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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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