Category Archives: Healthcare Litigation

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Taking Triage to Trial

The COVID 19 epidemic is bound to overwhelm available medical resources in the United States. Healthcare institutions and practitioners will be forced to make impossible life-or-death decisions regarding the allocation of manpower and supplies. They must also be ready to defend those decisions against a backlash of grief—and lawsuits—once the crisis has passed.

A defensible triage protocol must enable reasonable … Continue Reading

Sutter Health Settles California Attorney General Antitrust Case With Cash and an Agreement to Make Significant Changes to its Operations

The terms of a settlement that resolved antitrust litigation between the State of California and Sutter Health, the largest health system in Northern California, have now become public, almost two months after the settlement put an end to the case. The settlement, which was inked only days before a trial in the case was set to begin, includes both the … Continue Reading

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

The Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal harmonized the interpretation of state statutory and constitutional language in the first post Amendment 7 case dealing with access to adverse medical incident reports and their use at trial. The Florida statutory prohibition against the use and admissibility of certain incident reports was postulated to conflict with the state constitutional access to adverse … Continue Reading

Direct Patient Billing Can Create Provider Liability in Florida

To bill or not to bill, that is the question. Or, more appropriately, who to bill and when to bill, that is the question. Providers who bill patients under the circumstances described below may face liability. What is a provider to do?

A patient was injured in the course of her employment in December 2013 and applied for workers’ compensation … Continue Reading

Addressing Acute Mental Health Concerns: Parkland’s Legacy – Florida’s Red Flag Law

We are all too aware of the horrors of the Parkland shooting. In response to that awful day, the Florida Legislature enacted Florida Statute Section 790.401 in 2018, “the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act.”  Part of this new law is the “red flag” provision which allows courts to proactively remove firearms from individuals who pose a significant danger … Continue Reading

Possible Relief for Hospitals in the Protection of PSO Information?

Last Thursday, September 5, 2019, Judge James Moody, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida issued a positive ruling for hospitals dealing with patient safety organization (PSO) data. The opinion can be reviewed here. Note, while this decision is not binding on state courts, it is persuasive authority. It may be used to … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Resolves Statute of Limitation Circuit Split in False Claims Act Cases

Last month, in a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the analysis of the applicable statute of limitations under the False Claims Act (FCA) as set forth in 31 U.S.C. § 3731 is the same regardless of whether the government intervenes in the action or not.  While the decision is not likely to affect either the government … Continue Reading

US Supreme Court to Hear FCA Statute of Limitations Case

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in its ruling in Cochise Consultancy Inc. v. U.S. ex rel. Hunt, created a 3-way circuit split regarding the determination of the applicable statute of limitations period in a False Claims Act (FCA) case. On March 19, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument on the matter, hopefully ending the division … Continue Reading

Per se versus ‘Rule of Reason’ Standard: Judge in Blue Cross Antitrust MDL Proceeding Certifies His Decision For Interlocutory Appeal

In a somewhat unexpected but highly significant move, United States District Judge David Procter (Northern District of Alabama), who is presiding over the In re Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litigation (Case No. 2:13-cv-20000, N.D. Alabama), has granted defendants’ request that he certify his ruling that the defendants’ alleged conduct should be assessed under a per se standard (and not … Continue Reading

Pharmacies Accuse Drug Maker of Anticompetitive Contracting to Restrict Biosimilar Market

Walgreens and Kroger have filed an antitrust action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania accusing Johnson & Johnson (J&J) of engaging in anticompetitive conduct designed to stymie the growth of biosimilar alternatives to J&J’s Remicade, a biologic drug used to treat certain chronic immune disorders (Walgreen Co. v. Johnson & Johnson, Case … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Rules That Class Action Waivers Are Enforceable

Employers may require employees to enter into arbitration agreements that waive such employees’ ability to participate in a class or collective action lawsuit, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week. In a long-awaited decision that represents a significant victory for employers, the Court in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis held that such agreements do not violate the National Labor Relations … Continue Reading

Health Insurers Contend Allergy Test Maker’s Antitrust Claims Make No Economic Sense – Seek Early Dismissal on that Basis

Three health insurers accused of having violated the antitrust laws in Academy of Allergy & Asthma in Primary Care v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, et al. (Eastern District of Louisiana), have filed motions seeking a swift win in the matter prior to the commencement of discovery. In support of their request, Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana … Continue Reading

Reversal of Fortune: Rhode Island Court Withdraws “Tentative” Decision to Grant Summary Judgment to Health Insurer in Health System Antitrust Case and Sets Matter for Trial

In what was a surprise result, on April 23, Judge William Smith (Chief Judge of the District of Rhode Island) reversed the “tentative” decision he had announced last November, in Steward Health v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, which would have granted defendant Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBS-RI) summary judgment on all claims … Continue Reading

Partial Summary Judgment Granted to Plaintiffs in the In re Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litigation MDL Proceeding

On April 5, United States District Judge David Proctor (N.D. Alabama) granted partial summary judgment to the plaintiffs in the In re Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litigation, ruling that a network of trademark licensing agreements between the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and its member insurance companies (referred to as the ‘Blues’), which plaintiffs characterized as “horizontal market allocation … Continue Reading

Outpatient Surgery Center Avoids Dismissal of Antitrust Action Through an Assist from the DOJ

In 2012, Marion Healthcare, an outpatient surgery center in southern Illinois, commenced an antitrust action against Southern Illinois Healthcare (“SIH”), a multi-hospital system operating in the same market. Marion alleged that SIH had negotiated exclusive dealing relationships with several area health insurers, and that these agreements made it difficult, if not impossible, for Marion to compete for surgical patients in … Continue Reading

New Consequences for Unpaid Medicare Overpayments

For years, CMS has had the authority to refuse to enroll new Medicare providers if they or their owners have an unpaid Medicare overpayment, but CMS was not exercising this authority. Now, it appears that CMS is going to start. In January, CMS published Transmittal 1998 announcing that it intends to begin denying provider enrollment applications, or change-of-ownership applications, where … Continue Reading

Has the DOJ Signaled a More Critical Approach to FCA Cases?

Defendants have faced an ever increasing number of qui tam actions, yet the government has historically declined to seek dismissal of those actions where it declined to intervene. On January 10, 2018, the Director of the DOJ Civil Division Commercial Litigation Branch’s Fraud Section issued a memorandum to all DOJ attorneys, including AUSAs, advising them that when declining to intervene … Continue Reading

Florida Federal Court: Escobar Requires Reversal of $348 Million False Claims Act Jury Verdict

The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida vacated a large jury verdict in a False Claims Act case against the owners and operators of nursing homes because the evidence did not satisfy the materiality standards articulated in the U.S Supreme Court’s 2016 opinion in Universal Health Services v. Escobar.

The court’s thorough and well-written opinion … Continue Reading

AHCA Sees the Light on Nursing Home Generator Rule, Unplugging Challenge

After Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida, a nursing home in South Florida lost power, and several residents of that nursing home died allegedly as the result of increased temperatures caused by the loss of air conditioning. In the immediate aftermath of this tragic accident, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) (for nursing homes) and the Department of Elder … Continue Reading

Florida Supreme Court: Referral Sources Can Be Protected By A Non-Compete

Big news for home health agencies and others whose business comes from referral sources: the Florida Supreme Court just held that referral sources are the kind of protectable business interest that will support a non-compete agreement. Home health agencies, like other health care businesses, routinely use non-compete agreements to prevent marketing employees from leaving and going to work for direct … Continue Reading

“Sometimes Wrong, Never in Doubt” – A New Perspective?

Two recent studies of medical malpractice claims highlight how patient complaints may identify those surgeons at greater risk for complications, a significant decrease in paid medical malpractice claims since 1992, and the need for greater understanding of the causes of differences in claims experience across medical specialties.… Continue Reading

When a Discount May be a Kickback

Healthcare providers of all kinds, as well as medical equipment suppliers, have traditionally relied upon discounts as a legitimate means of attracting patients and commercial clients without running afoul of the federal anti-kickback statute (AKS). Congress specifically created the discount “safe harbor” to the AKS years ago based on its policy of encouraging discounts that are properly disclosed as a … Continue Reading

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