In The News

Government Settles False Claims Act Allegations against Florida Neurologist for $150,000

If you think a False Claims Act attorney would eventually get over the feelings of dismay when faced with case after case involving various types of fraud, think again. When there are cases such as Medicare fraud cases that can have immense negative effects on a number of people in a number of different ways the dismay never fades away. Thanks on large part to the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May of 2009 by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, more and more False Claims Act cases—such as the one described below—are being filed.

In May of 2015 Dr. Sean Orr of Jacksonville, Florida agreed to pay $150,000 to settle allegations that he violated the False Claims Act by providing medically unnecessary services and drugs to federal health care program beneficiaries. This settlement was reached about a year after the government settled related allegations against Dr. Orr’s former employer, Baptist Health System Inc. which is the parent company to Baptist Neurology Inc. and Baptist Medical Center-Jacksonville, for $2.5 million.

The settlement with Dr. Orr resolves allegations that, from September 2009 to April 2012, he knowingly misdiagnosed certain patients with various neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), which caused federal health care programs to be billed for medically unnecessary services and drugs. The alleged misconduct affected beneficiaries in the Medicare, TRICARE and the Federal Employees Health Benefits programs. The settlement agreement was based on Orr’s ability to pay. It is important to note that the claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.

According to the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, “The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable physicians who make false diagnoses or otherwise provide medically unnecessary treatment.”

The government’s investigation of Dr. Orr was initiated by a qui tam lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act by former Baptist Neurology Inc. employee, Verchetta Wells. The act allows private citizens to file suit for false claims on behalf of the government and to share in the government’s recovery. Ms. Wells will receive $26,250 in whistleblower rewards from the settlement with Dr. Orr