Last month, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey announced a $12.6 million settlement it reached with the Cooper Health System and Cooper University Hospital regarding a False Claims Act lawsuit that was filed against the company. Cooper will pay $10.2 million of the settlement to the federal government and $2.3 to the State of New Jersey.
The lawsuit, filed in 2008, accused Cooper of paying illegal kickbacks to doctors in order to induce them to refer patients to Cooper. Under the guise of a sham advisory board (the Cooper Heart Institute Advisory Board), Cooper allegedly paid high-volume medical practices upwards of $18,500 each to attend four meetings over the course of a year—meetings which were conveniently held at elegant banquet facilities. According to the Complaint, the real goal of these meetings was to encourage medical practices to refer patients to Cooper.
The whistleblower in this case, Dr. Nicholas L. DePace, is a prominent Delaware Valley cardiologist. He was invited to join the Cooper Heart Institute Advisory Board in 2007. When he attended his first meeting, he understood that the advisory board and meetings were merely a front for paying kickbacks. He filed his qui tam lawsuit in 2008. His portion of the settlement has not yet been determined.
For more information on anti-kickback False Claims Act cases and how to go about filing one, contact the attorneys at Tycko & Zavareei today.