January 22, 2018

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Serial Relator Getting the Boot?

This past Friday, hospital company HCA Holdings, Inc. asked a federal court judge to dismiss a False Claims Act (FCA) suit filed by whistleblower and former employee, Stephen McMullen.  Mr. McMullen worked for an HCA-affiliated hospital for a total of 20-22 days over a period of five months before accusing the company of fraudulently billing Medicare for non-invasive diagnostic vascular studies.

HCA argued that Mr. McMullen’s first and amended complaints contained only generalized allegations without factual support because he only worked at one HCA-affiliated facility for a short period of time.  HCA also argued that Mr. McMullen was a serial relator who had demonstrated a pattern of working for providers for a short time and then accusing them of failing to comply with technical guidance relating to accreditation of laboratories and/or the supervision of technicians performing vascular scans.

HCA is not the only hospital company against which Mr. McMullen has made such accusations.  In May 2012 – on the same day that he filed suit against HCA – Mr. McMullen filed a qui tam FCA suit against Ascension Health based on the same alleged underlying conduct.  Ascension moved to dismiss the matter in June 2013.  Ascension noted that its case was at least the fourth case in which Mr. McMullen had sued a hospital operator over alleged FCA violations.

As of the date of this post, it remains to be seen what will become of Mr. McMullen and his various FCA suits.  For information on recently unsealed FCA qui tam cases, follow Mintz Levin’s Qui Tam Updates and check back each month for additional updates.

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About this Author

Samantha Kingsbury, Health Care, Attorney, Mintz Levin, Law firm

Samantha’s practice focuses on health care enforcement defense matters. These matters often involve criminal and administrative actions brought against health care providers and companies by state and federal governmental and regulatory agencies. She also has experience in assisting clients with internal investigations of potential violations of the federal anti-kickback statute, the Stark law, and the False Claims Act, among other statutes and regulations. Samantha also has experience preparing self-disclosures and other reports relating to such enforcement matters, as well as...