Judge Orders Murphy Anderson Whistleblower Case To Go Forward

September 19, 2016

U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte of the District of Maryland denied four healthcare defendants' motions to dismiss a Murphy Anderson whistleblower's claims.

On behalf of relator Mary Dupont, M.D., in 2013 Murphy Anderson filed suit against four healthcare companies: Foundation Healthcare, Inc., Foundation Surgery Affiliates, LLC, Surgical Synergies, Inc., and Metropolitan Medical Partners LLC, alleging federal False Claims Act (FCA) and state law violations. Dr. Dupont alleges that the defendants engaged in a fraudulent scheme to induce referrals from physician-investors at the ambulatory surgical centers they owned and operated through unlawful business practices that violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS).

These violations, including a 75 surgical procedure annual quota, the relator alleges, rendered false the claims that defendants submitted to Medicare and other federal programs, which certified AKS compliance. The Foundation defendants and Surgical Synergies not only were hired to manage the facilities but were co-owners of the ambulatory surgical centers, which, among other things, placed the centers outside the regulatory safe harbor, the relator alleges.

The defendants moved to dismiss Dupont's FCA and state claims, arguing that their business model did not violate the AKS and that the complaint did not meet the appropriate pleading standards.

Unpersuaded by defendants' arguments, Judge Messitte denied their motions to dismiss, thus allowing the case to proceed to discovery. By permitting Dr. Dupont's case to go forward, Judge Messitte has recognized that the complaint plausibly alleges unlawful conduct with the requisite particularity.

Murphy Anderson attorneys Mark Hanna, Catherine Lusk and Adam Breihan are litigating the case along with co-counsel David Bocian and Asher Alavi of the Kessler Topaz law firm and healthcare attorney Donald Seifman. David Finkelstein of the Department of Justice filed a statement of interest.