A portion of a $347.9 million verdict against a nursing home provider was reinstated late last week by a federal appeals court in an ongoing False Claims Act case.
The action stems from whistleblower Angela Ruckh, a one-time employee of Consulate Health Care, which previously operated as La Vie Rehab. She filed suit against the company, accusing it of overcharging Medicare and Medicaid by inflating therapy claims in 2011.
The skilled nursing chain was hit with a $347.9 million total judgment in March 2017. The jury verdict called for $115 million in Medicare and Medicaid damages, but that amount was later tripled by a federal court under provisions of the False Claims Act — adding a minimum penalty of $5,500 for each of the 446 cited false claims.
The verdict was later tossed out by a Florida judge in January 2018 who said there wasn’t enough evidence the government would have withheld payment if aware of the billing violations brought by Ruckh. She later appealed that decision.
In the latest ruling handed down by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday, the court stated that Ruckh did have enough evidence that a jury would have concluded the chain committed Medicaid-related fraud, Business Insurance reported.
The ruling reinstated the $85.1 million Medicare award and after trebling and statutory penalties the total award reinstated comes to more than $255 million, according to Ruckh’s representation. The dismissal of the Medicaid award was upheld by the court.