Category Archives: Miami-Dade County

Geico Sues Florida Health Clinic for ‘Unnecessary’ Massage Claims

As reported by Law360, Geico sued Medical Wellness Services Inc. of Miami, FL for allegedly making $1.2 million in claims for providing medically unnecessary treatments for automobile accident victims who were eligible for coverage under their no-fault insurance policies. According to Geico, some of the claims were for services that were not actually provided and contained billing codes that misrepresented and exaggerated the services.

“The defendants do not now have — and never had — any right to be compensated for the fraudulent services that were billed to Geico through Medical Wellness,” Geico said. Geico claims Medical Wellness Services Inc. submitted claims for massage therapist services which are not reimbursable because Florida law prohibits no-fault insurance reimbursement for massages or other similar services.

According to the suit, the scheme began no later than 2013 and continues to this day. In addition to the request for $1.2 million in damages, Geico is also requesting a declaration from the court saying it will not have to pay any pending fraudulent claims by the health clinic which totals more than $75,000.

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Filed under Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Defense, Insurance Fraud, Miami-Dade County, Miami-Dade Fraud, Personal Injury Protection, PIP/No Fault

Trooper Fired and Arrested for Helping Friend Cover Up Crash

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper David Casillas was arrested on Tuesday, February 28th and charged with organized fraud, filing a false insurance claim and official misconduct after trying to help a friend cover up a traffic crash that occurred in June of 2015. FHP fired Casillas in January as a result of the investigation which lasted over a year.

During the investigation, it was discovered that Casillas had written a false report for a bogus insurance claim submitted by his friend, dentist Jesus Del Valle. The insurance claim was submitted as a result of damage the dentist had done to his vehicle when he sideswiped a landscaping crew and kept driving.

Del Valle’s crash left Yoel Montero, a gardener with Lewis Tree Service, with a traumatic head injury and severe injuries to his right leg. The false insurance claim alleges that the accident happened a week later than it actually happened and that he had crashed the SUV into a palm tree instead of a landscaping crew.

The key to breaking the case was the fact that Del Valle’s 2015 Land Rover needed a new passenger-side mirror which could only be ordered from Range Rover manufacturers. Only one such had been sold in that time period and it was to Del Valle’s mechanic (and friend) Ariel Perera who performed the repair on his vehicle. Perera also allegedly submitted inflated invoices to Del Valle’s insurance company as well as charged the company for replacement parts that were never actually replaced. He is also facing charges with Del Valle and Casilla.

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Filed under Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Insurance, Insurance Fraud, Miami-Dade County

Chiropractor’s Challenge To ‘PIP’ Law Kicked Back By Appeals Court

In a 14-page ruling on Wednesday, February 15th, the 3rd District Court of Appeal upheld part of a 2012 overhaul of the state’s personal-injury protection auto insurance system that limits No-Fault (Personal Injury Protection) benefits to $2,500 for individuals who were not diagnosed with an emergency medical condition. The appeals court overturned a judge’s decision in a Miami-Dade County court citing arguments that the 2012 law overhaul was intended to help prevent fraud in the PIP insurance system, but was unconstitutional.

The ruling was in response to chiropractor Eduardo Garrido’s legal victory against Progressive American Insurance Company. Garrido was seeking a determination that the insurer should pay up to the policy limit of $10,000 in the absence of diagnosis that the patient suffered an emergency medical condition as the result of an automobile accident. He also challenged that it was unconstitutional to bar chiropractors from being able to diagnose patients with having suffered an emergency medical condition. The chiropractor treated a patient after an accident in 2013 and submitted invoices to Progressive who only paid $2,500 of the $6,075 billed. According to Progressive, there had been no determination, other than Dr. Garrido’s, a chiropractor, that the patient suffered an emergency medical condition.

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Filed under FL Legislation, Florida, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Defense, Miami-Dade County, Personal Injury Protection, PIP/No Fault

Miami Woman Arrested and Charged in Insurance Fraud Scheme

According to the Palm Beach Post, Carmen Montalvo-Rivera of Miami was arrested and charged in Lake Worth, FL on Thursday, October 27th after investigators say she defrauded SUNZ Insurance Company. The arrest report states that Montalvo-Rivera’s shell company, Enterprises Remodeling Group Inc., used uninsured employers to do construction work. Once the job was finished, she would then cash the checks made out to the shell company in order to pay the workers in cash and severely underreport her company’s wages to the insurance company.

Montalvo-Rivera reported Enterprise Remodeling Group’s wages at $26,665 when they were actually $4,307,092.48. Her insurance premium should have been between $327,000 and $525,000 instead of the $1,796 premium she had been paying due to her fraudulent reporting.

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Filed under Florida, Insurance, Insurance Fraud, Miami-Dade County, Uninsured

Miami Police Arrest Twelve for Medical Fraud Schemes

On August 8, 2016, police arrested a dozen people in Miami-Dade County for their involvement in medical fraud schemes. Three of those arrested were employees of Brothers Medical Clinic on West Flagler St; which included a doctor, therapist and a woman who worked at the front desk.

According to detectives, the investigation began in September when an undercover officer walked into the clinic claiming he was involved in a car accident and needed therapy. The officer only visited that clinic once, but his insurance was billed thousands of dollars for services that were never provided.

“There wasn’t any type of treatment whatsoever,” an undercover detective with the National Insurance Crime Bureau said. “They were just billing the insurance companies for services not rendered, and this is something that goes on time and time again.”

The other nine arrests took place at a clinic in West Kendall.

“South Florida has become the capital of the country for medical fraud, and these types of clinics are an epidemic in the country,” said Miami Police Officer Rene Pimentel.

These fraudulent schemes are affecting insurance rates across the United States and are costing insureds hundreds of millions of dollars, where the sole beneficiaries are the clinics and doctors who facilitate these schemes.

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Filed under Insurance Fraud, Miami-Dade County

Three from Miami Sentenced in $40M Medicare Fraud

Jorge Lorenzo, Yahima Pardo and Roberto De Jesus Alonso, all of Miami, were sentenced to prison and ordered to pay more than $40 million as a result of their involvement in what is considered the Medicare fraud scheme that caused the greatest loss to the government in 2015.

In addition to the nearly $40.4 million in restitution, the government seized over $2 million in cash and personal assets including Rolex and Cartier watches and artwork by prominent Cuban artists.

The case, before U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas, centered around Lorenzo’s ownership or control of 8 home health agencies in Miami-Dade County that received in excess of $40 million from Medicare as a result of fraudulent claims by way shell owners at each agency funneling claim payments to other fictitious companies staffed by co-conspirators. Once indication of a Medicare fraud investigation arose, Lorenzo would close the home health agency, keeping them open for only 8 months on average.

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Filed under Florida, Insurance Fraud, Medicare, Miami-Dade County, Uncategorized

Miami PIP Attorney Charged With Insurance Fraud

Miami attorney Anett Lopez was arrested on charges of taking part in a $1.5 million personal injury protection (PIP) fraud scheme.

Lopez is accused of filing lawsuits seeking reimbursements for the treatment of patients at Care Resources Group, a Miami healthcare clinic fraudulently operated under a straw owner.

A February investigation by the Florida Division of Investigative and Forensic Services (DIFS) uncovered that Care Resources Group was a PIP clinic illegally operating under a straw owner to avoid state licensing requirements. Lopez, straw owner Dr. Mario Torres and four others were arrested for alleged money laundering and soliciting of car accident victims in connection with the straw ownership of the clinic.

Lopez, who state authorities say was aware of the clinic’s straw ownership, filed lawsuits against at least a dozen insurance companies that resulted in payouts of nearly $1.5 million. Lopez faces seven counts each of insurance fraud and grand theft, and one count of organized scheme to fraud. She faces up to 85 years in prison if convicted of all 15 felonies.

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Filed under Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2012), Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), Health care, Insurance Fraud, Miami-Dade County, Personal Injury Protection, PIP/No Fault

Another DCA Sides With Insurers on Fee Schedule Language

The Third District Court of Appeal recently ruled in favor of Allstate in a dispute over personal injury protection (PIP) reimbursements for medical services following an auto accident.

The Third DCA now agrees with two other appellate courts: the First in Tallahassee and the Second in Lakeland. However, as a result of a contrary ruling from the Fourth DCA in West Palm Beach, the dispute is set for oral argument before the Florida Supreme Court in September.

The dispute focuses on language in auto insurance policies that spells out if the insurer properly elected to pay medical bills based upon the Medicare fee schedules enumerated in the PIP statute. Florida courts have said the insurance policies must unambiguously elect the use of the statutory fee schedules in limiting reimbursement for PIP claims.

The Third DCA case came from five consolidated appeals. All five concerned a medical provider, as assignee of a person insured by Allstate, suing Allstate for payment of medical bills under the PIP statute. In each case the policy had identical policy language stating: “Any amounts payable under this coverage shall be subject to any and all limitations, authorized by section 627.736 … including but not limited to, all fee schedules.”

Third DCA Judge Thomas Logue, who wrote the opinion, agreed with the opinions in the other two appellate courts finding for Allstate and noted that he agreed with Judge Melanie May’s dissent in the Fourth DCA ruling. Logue disagreed with medical providers, who insisted the words “subject to” were ambiguous.

“A decision that the term ‘subject to’ is ambiguous would mean that the Judicial Code and many provisions of Florida Statutes were legally meaningless and in need of redrafting,” Logue wrote. “We decline to adopt such a counter-intuitive interpretation of a common and well-understood legal expression. The use of the phrase ‘subject to’ in the policy places the insured on notice of the limitations elected by Allstate.”

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Filed under Fla. Stat. 627.736 (2012), Florida, Insurance, Insurance Defense, Miami-Dade County, Personal Injury Protection, PIP/No Fault

Woman Sent to Jail for Stealing Identities of Insurance Customers

A routine traffic stop uncovered the scheme of a former employee of a health insurance company who stole the identities of customers.

Quinzella J. Romer, 39, was sentenced to 32 months in prison and ordered to pay $16,264 in restitution. Romer pleaded guilty to one count of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices (Social Security numbers) issued to other people and one count of aggravated identity theft.

The federal prosecutor said Romer’s scam started unraveling after a traffic stop in Coral Springs in 2014. Police noticed Romer had an outstanding warrant for petit theft, and during a pat down, officers found a Florida driver’s license in another person’s name and a cellphone.

After getting a search warrant, officers found 20 screenshots on the phone containing 50 names with Social Security numbers and dates of birth. Romer had taken the shots between 2007 and 2013 during her work as a short-term disability benefit manager at a health insurance company.

An investigation revealed that 12 of the numbers in Romer’s phone were victims of tax-related identity theft in 2013. Tax returns filed on behalf of those names sought refunds of $38,196, with the Internal Revenue Service actually paying out $16,264.

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Filed under Florida, Insurance, Miami-Dade County

Taxi Companies Sue Miami-Dade For $1 Billion In Wake Of Uber Law

A class action lawsuit on behalf of three taxi cab operators is seeking up to $1 billion from Miami-Dade County, claiming a new county ordinance has severely decreased the value of the medallions required of cab owners.

The suit was filed one day after the Miami-Dade County Commission legalized ride-hailing providers such as Uber and Lyft.

“The effect of ‘regulating’ (Uber and Lyft) is to legalize, upon information and belief, upwards of ten thousand for-hire transportation providers in Miami-Dade County, and to thereby remove any and all disincentives or barriers to the increasing dilution of the for-hire transportation market in same,” the complaint states.

Lead plaintiff Miadeco Corp. brought the lawsuit along with B&S Taxi Corp. and Checker Cab Operations Inc.

“Give us equal protections under the law,” Coral Gables attorney Ralph Patino, who is representing the taxi companies, said at a news conference. “You cannot take away a property right without paying market value.”

The medallions, which were worth an average of $340,000 each in 2014, are necessary for the cab companies to operate. Taxi companies now say the medallions may only be worth $50,000. Patino said damages to the medallions would total $600 million to $700 million. He added that total is likely to reach $1 billion by the time a jury would hear the suit. Since county law treats the medallions as property, Patino is suing under the principal of inverse condemnation.

Taxi companies say Uber gets to play by different rules because the company’s fleet of part-time drivers, which number 10,000 in Miami-Dade alone, don’t need medallions. But Uber says the medallions allow cabs to park outside Miami International Airport and the area’s many hotels, whereas Uber drivers must be summoned first via the company’s phone app.

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Filed under Miami-Dade County, Transportation Network Companies