The Pope McGlamry and Bracker & Marcus team just overcame a big hurdle in their quest to hold dialysis giant DaVita accountable for submitting false claims for payment to the Government as a result of internal lab failures that do not ensure reliable test results for a vulnerable patient population. DaVita annually tests and treats nearly 200,000 patients with kidney failure and end-stage renal disease at 2,350 nationwide outpatient dialysis centers. Dialysis patients rely on lab testing to determine the stage of their disease and how to properly treat it. The whistleblowers, former DaVita Medical Directors represented by Pope McGlamry and Bracker & Marcus, have alleged that the company used its two labs in Florida for all nationwide testing needs because of favorable state tax breaks and failed to control specimen conditions transported over long distances or perform basic lab duties required by law to ensure test accuracy, recklessly choosing profits over critical patient care. The accuracy of test results not only goes to the heart of the Government’s agreement to pay DaVita for testing services through benefit programs such as Medicare, but it also critically affects the lives of each dialysis patient.
The whistleblowers brought this action on behalf of the Government to recover federal funds paid to DaVita for its unreliable testing services, which were of no clinical value, and the treatment based on those unreliable tests. On June 25, 2020, federal district court Judge Roy Dalton denied DaVita’s motion to dismiss the action, finding the whistleblowers stated a claim for each count alleged in their complaint. The case will now proceed with further discovery as the parties anticipate a trial date of next October. The whistleblowers are represented by a team consisting of Pope McGlamry, Bracker & Marcus, and Jill Schwartz & Associates.
“We are pleased with the Court’s opinion and what it potentially could mean for thousands of dialysis patients that rely upon DaVita’s services. It has been our intention throughout this case to hold accountable those companies who perpetuate fraud against our Government but also to bring to light improper medical practices that compromise the very integrity of patients’ health care. The Government has enacted regulations intended to ensure that lab tests meet the requirements of safety and effectiveness before they are put into widespread use, and there is substantial harm in permitting labs to circumvent the safeguards put in place to prevent the American public from being exposed to dangerous and ineffective testing. We are still in the early stages of litigation and have a long way to go, but the ruling today gets our clients and the taxpayers one step closer to justice,” said Pope McGlamry attorney Aimee J. Hall.
“Judge Dalton’s opinion sends a clear message to companies like DaVita, who believe that they can flout regulations and yet remain impervious to False Claims Act liability. DaVita posts annual revenue in the billions of dollars, yet it ignores basic laboratory procedure. When the Government pays a company to perform health services based on lab values, and that company does nothing to ensure that specimens are preserved, machines are calibrated, and testing protocols are followed, then the entire treatment plan is based upon untrustworthy information. As Judge Dalton properly found, these violations ‘go to the heart of what the Government is paying for – reliable test results that can be used to treat patients.’ This case is an important vehicle for holding DaVita accountable for the treatment it provides to more than 200,000 patients,” said Julie Bracker, from Bracker & Marcus LLC.