ARONOVITZ LAW Represents Florida Whistleblower in $89.6 Million Medicare Fraud Case against a Brevard County Cancer Treatment Center

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A Florida federal court ordered a Brevard County oncologist and two cancer treatment centers to pay $89.6 million for Medicare fraud. ARONOVITZ LAW, a Miami qui tam and personal injury law firm, represented the whistleblower.

“As a healthcare professional, the whistleblower understood the inner workings of his employer, including the equipment and procedures. He followed his conscience to bring fraudulent medical treatments to light,” said attorney Barbara Perez.

A Brevard County radiation oncologist and the two cancer treatment centers he operated have been ordered to pay the United States $89.6 million for defrauding Medicare in violation of the federal False Claims Act. On May 14, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida entered final judgment against defendants Dr. Wasfi A. Makar and American Cancer Treatment Centers (ACTC), who submitted false claims for medical procedures to Medicare from 2009 to 2012. In doing so, the defendants not only disregarded Medicare regulations but, more importantly, put the health and welfare of their patients at risk.

Attorney Barbara Perez of ARONOVITZ LAW (http://www.aronovitzlaw.com) represented Joseph McBride, the whistleblower who first brought the allegations to light. McBride is a radiation therapy technologist who was employed at ACTC. Among other things, he alleged in his qui tam complaint that Dr. Makar and ACTC billed Medicare for procedures that were never actually performed, or were performed improperly, to the detriment of ACTC’s patients.

“As a healthcare professional, Mr. McBride understood the inner workings of his employer, including the equipment and procedures. He knew that patients were not receiving the care they needed and followed his conscience to bring this fraudulent activity to light,” said attorney Barbara Perez.

According to court documents, McBride and other radiation therapists were instructed to bill on a daily basis for procedures supposedly performed with a certain type of imaging machine, even though ACTC never actually owned such a machine. Additionally, the therapists were instructed to bill for performing procedures with a second type of imaging machine, despite the fact that the machine’s key component was inoperable. The lack of that key component meant that patients were not getting the specialized radiation treatment needed, even though defendants stated to the patients that they were.

“I was alarmed by what I saw happening at ACTC. The health of patients was being endangered by the failure to properly administer required radiation services, and I simply couldn’t stand by and allow it to continue,” said whistleblower Joseph McBride. “I am very pleased with the outcome my attorneys were able to achieve and that justice prevailed.”

The case was brought under the federal False Claims Act, which sets criminal and civil penalties for, among other things, falsely billing the government for services or products. Most states, including Florida, have enacted their own versions of such “whistleblower” laws, as have many local governments. For example, Miami-Dade County and Broward County both have whistleblower laws.

False claims acts may be enforced by either the government or by a private individual in a qui tam proceeding. In a qui tam (or whistleblower) action, a private party files suit alleging that the defendants defrauded the government. If the suit succeeds, the private party may receive 10 to 30 percent of any recovered damages depending on the type of case. By working with a qui tam attorney, the whistleblower maintains the protection of confidentiality while the initial case is being documented.

The lawsuit is captioned United States of America, ex rel. Joseph McBride v. Wasfi A. Makar, M.D., et al., No. 8:12-cv-00792-JDW-MAP (M.D. Fla.).

Legal Disclaimer: Results may not be typical. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.

About ARONOVITZ LAW

The Miami trial law firm of ARONOVITZ LAW (http://www.aronovitzlaw.com) pursues justice for those who have been injured by the wrongful actions or omissions of another individual, government agency, or corporation. The firm routinely works with whistleblowers to document Medicare fraud and other forms of fraud against the government. It also assists clients with civil litigation, consumer class action litigation, medical malpractice, product liability, and wrongful death cases.

The firm was founded in 1988 by Tod Aronovitz, who served as President of The Florida Bar in 2002 and is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell. The attorneys of ARONOVITZ LAW have been recognized by Super Lawyers®, Miami magazine and the South Florida Legal Guide. The firm has also been included among Florida Trend magazine’s “Legal Elite” as well as Best Lawyers of America and the American Society of Legal Advocates.

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Margaret Grisdela
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