Category Archives: Middle District of Florida

United States Settles False Claims Act Allegations Against Orthopedic Surgery Practice For $4,488,000

According to The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida, Southeast Orthopedic Specialists (SOS) has agreed to pay the government $4.488 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act.

The claims against SOS arose from the company billing federal healthcare programs for services that were not medically necessary or reasonable. Specifically, the United States contended that SOS sought reimbursement for millions of dollars of healthcare claims that were questionable.

This settlement illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative.

The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.

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Filed under False Claims Act, Florida, Health care, Insurance, Insurance Fraud, Middle District of Florida

GEICO Wins Sanctions Against Law Firm, Auto Repair Shop

GEICO won a sanctions request in Florida federal court against a Mississippi auto repair shop and its law firm. U.S. Senior District Judge Gregory A. Presnell ruled that GEICO’s Motion for Attorney Fees was “meritorious” and ordered the insurance company to prepare a specific fees request.

Clinton Body Shop and its law firm, John Arthur Eaves Attorneys, lost a summary judgment in a related suit charging GEICO with unjust enrichment and tortious interference with business relations. GEICO said that the summary judgment victory in that previous case barred the body shop from reasserting those same claims. The federal judge in the Middle District of Florida agreed.

“Any reasonable attorney or claimant would have known what is one of the most fundamental principles of our legal system: that a claim or issue, once litigated to a final adjudication, cannot be relitigated,” GEICO said in its motion. “(R)efiling of the same claims they lost to GEICO three months earlier in another case is automatically bad faith, warranting sanctions.”

Clinton’s argument was that the two suits involved separate entities: the first against GEICO Insurance Co., the latter against GEICO General Insurance.

The case is part of multidistrict litigation in which repair shops in 10 states are accusing several insurance companies of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act by colluding to keep reimbursement rates low for auto body repair work.

Presnell had dismissed Clinton’s claims against GEICO in May before granting sanctions on July 19.

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Filed under Florida, Insurance, Insurance Defense, Middle District of Florida

GEICO Files RICO Suit Alleging Windshield Repair Fraud

A federal lawsuit filed by GEICO on June 9 provides an inside look at an elaborate windshield repair fraud scheme.

The suit, filed in the Middle District of Florida, makes claims of fraud, unjust enrichment and RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) violations against at least two companies and their owners.

The complaint explained the scheme as follows:

A company called Cornerstone Mobile paid kickbacks to car dealerships and car wash companies to work off their properties. Cornerstone would offer to fix even the slightest damage to windshields for free. It would obtain the car owner’s insurance information and, more importantly, the owner’s signature to transfer assignment of benefits. Sometimes, GEICO alleges, the Cornerstone owners would steal insurance information from glove boxes of cars and forge the owners’ signature.

Eventually, Cornerstone Network was incorporated. The two entities had separate tax identification numbers but operated in an identical manner. GEICO says the two companies were used in hopes of reducing the number of fraudulent claims from Cornerstone Network alone, and thus avoid detection. Both companies claimed to do windshield repairs, but neither had a physical address—one was just a post office box in Tavernier.

Once Cornerstone got insurance information from automobile owners, the employees used a liquid formula from a window repair kit to coat over cracks and chips. Afterward, Cornerstone charged GEICO and other insurers for a full windshield replacement. The complaint alleges that Cornerstone would wait two to four weeks to file for reimbursement. Florida law allows insurers 30 days to make windshield replacement reimbursements, meaning GEICO was rushed to pay the claims on time and didn’t have a chance to investigate them.

GEICO presented exhibits showing more than 600 fraudulent windshield claims from each Cornerstone company, costing GEICO in excess of $223,000.

The case is Government Employees Insurance Company, et al. v. Jason Fry, et. al.

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Filed under Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Florida Division of Insurance Fraud, Insurance, Insurance Fraud, Middle District of Florida, Windshield Damage Scam

Former Fugitive Sentenced to 37 Months for Healthcare Fraud

A Cuban national was sentenced to more than three years in prison after pleading guilty to a $2.6 million healthcare fraud against Medicare, according to the Department of Justice.

Ubert Guillermo Rodriguez, 47, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud in March 2016. Rodriguez, who had been a fugitive since his indictment in 2013 until his arrest in 2015, was also ordered to pay $918,000 in restitution and forfeit another $918,000. When federal authorities served a seizure warrant on Rodriguez’s bank account, they seized more than $243,000.

Rodriguez owned G.R. Services Equipment & Supplies near St. Petersburg. The company was supposed to supply medical equipment to Medicare beneficiaries. Rodriguez admitted his company submitted nearly $2.6 million in false claims to Medicare from May 2013 to June 2013. During that period, Rodriguez was reimbursed for hundreds of thousands of dollars for sterile collagen dressings and negative pressure wound therapy electrical pumps. Yet those items were never prescribed by doctors or given to beneficiaries.

The case was part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Florida.

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Filed under Florida, Insurance, Insurance Fraud, Medicare, Middle District of Florida

Federal Appeals Court Reinstates PIP Claims Suit Against HCA

A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit against HCA Holdings charging that HCA and three of its Florida hospitals violated Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit’s April 26 ruling overturned a February 2015 federal court decision in the Middle District of Florida that dismissed the class action. That suit accused three HCA hospitals—Memorial Hospital Jacksonville, North Florida Regional Medical Center of Gainesville and JFK Medical Center in Atlantis—of charging unreasonably high fees for emergency radiological services covered by Florida’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance.

The four Florida residents who filed the complaint received emergency radiological services after motor vehicle accidents. They said they were billed more than other patients who received the same services. “In fact, these fees are up to 65 times higher than the usual and customary fees charged to non-PIP patients for similar radiological services,” according to the complaint.

In one example, the court’s opinion said the hospitals charged between $5,900 and $6,965 for spinal CT scans on the plaintiffs. The ruling said Medicare rates for spinal CT scans are between $213 and $220, and rates for uninsured patients go up to $3,454.

The complaint said the exorbitant rates caused the residents’ $10,000 PIP coverage to be exhausted prematurely. The complaint also accuses HCA of breach of contract as the four Floridians entered into a Condition of Admission contract that required their accounts to be paid at the hospitals’ price lists. All four plaintiffs said they weren’t provided such a price list at the time of their treatments.

Only one of the four plaintiffs was allowed to go forward with a suit against a single hospital in the 2015 ruling by U.S. District Judge James Moody in the Middle District of Florida. Moody’s ruling was overturned by a unanimous Eleventh Circuit panel consisting of Judges Beverly B. Martin, Julie E. Carnes and Senior Judge R. Lanier Anderson III. The suit was originally filed July 2014 in the Southern District of Florida.

 

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Filed under HCA, Health care, Insurance, Insurance Defense, Insurance Fraud, Middle District of Florida, Personal Injury Protection, PIP/No Fault

Executive Admits to Stealing $860,000 from Coastal Orthopedics

David Brooks, 44, of Ohio plead guilty to mail fraud and faces up to 20 years in federal prison, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Florida. According to a plea agreement reached in October 2011, Brooks was hired as a Financial Accounting Manager at Costal Orthopedics and Sports Medicine of Southwest Florida located in Bradenton, Florida. During Brooks’ employment at Costal he was convicted of theft, money laundering, and other fraud-related offenses in Ohio. Once Coastal learned of the Ohio charges in June 2013, Coastal fired Brooks and began a review of its books and records.

Coastal found that between January 2012 and June 19, 2013 Brooks has used company accounts to purchase more than $700,000 in American Express gift cards, which he used for personal expenses, including legal fees associated with his Ohio criminal case. In addition, Brooks diverted payroll funds to himself above his normal salary. In order to cover his wrong doing, Brooks altered the company’s books and records.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Brooks used ten different gift cards to purchase a 2012 Jeep Liberty. The gift cards were shipped directly to Brooks at Coastal on March 15, 2012, and four days later he used them to purchase the vehicle.

In total, Brooks defrauded Costal of $858,883 and of this total he used $702,091.60 to purchase the gift cards for his own personal use and the remaining amount was diverted to his salary.

Click here for press release.

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Filed under Middle District of Florida