Judgment against Minnesota Healthcare Provider for Nearly Half a Billion Dollars for False Claims Act Violations
A recent judgment was entered against Cameron-Ehlen Group, Inc. dba Precision Lens for more than $487 million for violating the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute. This judgment was reached after a federal civil jury concluded that the defendants were engaging in paying illegal kickbacks to ophthalmic surgeons to induce their use of certain products in cataract surgeries that were reimbursed by Medicare.
The jury found that Precision Lens and its owner were responsible for submitting 64,575 false claims to Medicare and causing $43,694,641 in single damages between 2006 and 2015. Defendants were responsible for the amount of $358,445,780 in statutory penalties as well as an additional $131,083,925.13 in trebled damages.
According to the initial allegations, the defendants engaged in various forms of kickbacks to physicians, which included:
- Luxurious trips, such as high-end skiing, fishing, golfing, hunting, and sporting.
- Entertainment vacations which, more than often, were at exclusive destinations.
- Frequently using private jets to transport physicians to their luxury vacations.
- Trips to New York City to see a Broadway musical, the College Football National Championship Game in Miami, Florida, and the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
- Selling substantially discounted frequent flyer miles to their physician customers, allowing the physicians to take personal and business trips at well below fair market value.
The whistleblowers, also known as relators, are eligible to receive between 15 to 30% of the government’s total recovery. In this case, the relator may be entitled to receive a whistleblower award of up to $146 million.