A jury ordered a nursing home to pay over $28 million for fraudulent billing, providing worthless services and for retaliating against two employees who complained about the shoddy care at the facility.
Two former employees of the Momence Meadows Nursing Center in Illinois brought their claim in 2004, accusing the nursing home of providing substandard care to elderly and disabled patients that lead to the deaths of three patients and rampant bed sores on patients. Patients with bed sores, or ulcers, must be turned every few hours in order to prevent them from becoming infected or even fatal. Bed sores are a common complaint in nursing home neglect and abuse lawsuits.
The workers also claimed that the nursing home falsely billed federal and state agencies for “worthless” services that it didn’t provide. After they complained about the poor conditions and fraudulent billing, the employees say they were retaliated against for reporting the nursing home’s conduct.
The federal government sued the nursing home under a federal law, known as the False Claims Act, that makes it illegal to file “false claims” to the government, such as submitting fraudulent bills for reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid. It also sued under a state law that protects individuals who blow the whistle on fraud and allow them to recover money damages.
After a nine-day trial, the jury found that the nursing home billed 1,729 false bills and ordered the nursing home to pay $19 million in penalties for filing false claims and $9 million in penalties for providing “worthless” services, and $400,000 to the two ex-employees.
Usually, when the government sues under the False Claims Act after an individual has blown the whistle on corporate fraud, the whistleblower, in this case the two ex-employees, are entitled to collect 15 to 25 percent of the penalties.
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