Miami—December 8, 2016—A Miami-Dade County hospital has agreed to pay the United States $12.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought against it, its parent company, and a local physician alleging they defrauded Medicare in violation of the federal False Claims Act. As a result of the settlement, on December 6, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida entered its Order dismissing all claims against Defendants Baptist Health of South Florida, Inc. d/b/a Baptist Health South Florida and d/b/a Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, Baptist Hospital of Miami, Inc., and South Miami Hospital, Inc. d/b/a South Miami Heart Center.
Attorneys Tod Aronovitz and Barbara Perez of ARONOVITZ LAW (http://www.aronovitzlaw.com) represented James A. Burks, M.D. and James D. Davenport, M.D., the whistleblowers who first brought the allegations to light. Both physicians practiced at South Miami Hospital and were members of various peer review committees. Among other things, they alleged in this qui tam complaint that Dr. John Dylewski and South Miami Hospital billed Medicare for procedures that were unnecessary, excessive or were performed improperly, to the detriment of the patients.
“Since early 2014, our firm carefully investigated the case, filed a detailed Complaint, tirelessly reviewed and analyzed more than 130,000 pages of medical records, emails and other documents, and then vigorously litigated the case in Federal Court. All the while, our valiant clients assisted and participated in the case to conclusion.” said attorney Tod Aronovitz.
Both Burks and Davenport, along with other peer review committee members, had repeatedly complained to the hospitals’ management and administration about the unnecessary and excessive procedures causing patient harm. They were alarmed by what they saw happening and when no action was taken, as physicians and healthcare professionals, they felt they had no choice but to disclose the information to the government in order to seek redress.
The case was brought under the federal False Claims Act, which sets criminal and civil penalties for, among other things, falsely billing the government for services or products. Most states, including Florida, have enacted their own versions of such “whistleblower” laws, as have many local governments. For example, Miami-Dade County and Broward County both have whistleblower laws.
False claims acts may be enforced by either the government or by a private individual in a qui tam proceeding. In a qui tam (or whistleblower) action, a private party files suit alleging that the defendants defrauded the government. If the suit succeeds, the private party may receive 10 to 30 percent of any recovered damages depending on the type of case. By working with a qui tam attorney, the whistleblower maintains the protection of confidentiality while the initial case is being documented.
The lawsuit is captioned United States of America, ex rel. James A. Burks, M.D., and James D. Davenport, M.D. v. Dylewski, et al., No. 1:14-cv-22079-civ-Ungaro (S.D. Fla.).
About ARONOVITZ LAW
The Miami trial law firm of ARONOVITZ LAW (http://www.aronovitzlaw.com) pursues justice for those who have been injured by the wrongful actions or omissions of another individual, government agency, or corporation. The firm routinely works with whistleblowers to document Medicare fraud and other forms of fraud against the government. It also assists clients with civil litigation, consumer class action litigation, medical malpractice, product liability, and wrongful death cases.
The firm was founded in 1988 by Tod Aronovitz, who served as President of The Florida Bar in 2002 and is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell. The attorneys of ARONOVITZ LAW have been recognized by Super Lawyers®, Miami magazine and the South Florida Legal Guide. The firm has also been included among Florida Trend magazine’s “Legal Elite” as well as Best Lawyers of America and the American Society of Legal Advocates.