An Illinois jury has returned a $29M verdict against Momence Meadows Nursing Center, Inc. (Momence) for providing substandard care to its Medicare patients. Two former employees of the company brought the case as whistleblowers under the False Claims Act. The nurses alleged that the care at the facility was so poor that it was essentially worthless and, therefore, Medicare should not have paid for it.
After several days of trial, the jury returned the verdict in a matter of hours, finding that the substandard care had cost the United States some $3M. Under the False Claims Act, those who defraud the federal government are liable for three times the damage suffered by the United States, plus a penalty of up to $11,000 for every false claim submitted to the government. All told, the jury found that Momence had submitted 1700 false claims and the total liability reached the $29M figure. The nurses will be entitled to between 15-30% of whatever is ultimately collected.
The case sends an important message to the nursing home community, particularly in light of today’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) Department of Health and Human Services report, publishing findings that the US paid some $5.1 billion in 2009 to nursing facilities for services that did not meet “quality-of-care” requirements. The investigation found that a disturbing percentage of Medicare patients in skilled nursing facilities do not receive the care they need.
Frohsin & Barger has represented whistleblowers across the country in False Claims Act suits against nursing facilities. Two weeks ago the Department of Justice announced a $700,000 settlement in a False Claims Act case brought by Frohsin & Barger against a skilled nursing facility in Fairfax, Virginia. Our clients received an award of $122,500.
To report skilled nursing or Medicare fraud, contact Frohsin & Barger, LLC.