False Claims Act lawsuit against SavaSeniorCare, Medline unsealed

Share this content:

A 2015 lawsuit claiming SavaSeniorCare violated the False Claims Act by accepting kickbacks from Medline and creating a “revenge” scheme against a competitor was unsealed in court last week.

Thirteen state governments, along with the federal government, declined to intervene in the case. That action caused a seal on the complaint to be lifted on April 27, making public the allegations against Medline, Sava, and a former official for the provider.

The complaint, filed by August Bogina III, alleges that Medline paid kickbacks to Sava and Mariner Health Care Inc. — in one instance, a briefcase full of $100 bills was allegedly involved — in exchange for the providers purchasing supplies from Medline. Those supplies were ultimately covered by Medicare and Medicaid, the complaint states.

A spokeswoman for Medline told McKnight's the company had no comment to share on the unsealing of the suit. Calls seeking comment from Sava, Mariner and legal representatives for both the providers and Medline were not returned by production deadline on Thursday.

The lawsuit claims that an official for the providers, referred to collectively in the suit as Sava-Mariner, told a colleague of Bogina's that he wanted “revenge” on rival skilled nursing provider Triad after a lease dispute.

That “revenge” scheme allegedly involved two men — including Michael Tutera, a business associate of Bogina's — receiving money from a Medline official through a limited liability company to purchase mortgage notes for the real estate on which Triad's facilities were located. The LLC then declared Triad in default on the mortgage notes, according to the suit.

Tutera, a former member of the ownership group for a skilled nursing and senior living provider of the same name, died in 2010.

The Triad “take down,” the lawsuit reads, led the Medline official “to pursue, on behalf of Sava-Mariner, an agreement for Sava-Mariner to purchase its DME for its nursing homes from Medline, rather than from its supplier at that time, Gulf South Medical Supply.”

A purchaser for Sava who was loyal to Golf South also was allegedly fired as part of the kickback scheme, so that the provider could replace him with a “Medline-friendly purchasing agent,” according to the suit.

Bogina's suit seeks the maximum “relator's share” award, as well as damages that would be paid by the defendants. A similar lawsuit filed by Bogina against provider Tutera and Medline was dismissed last year for being too similar to a previous suit settled by the supply company.