A Delaware federal court entered a default judgment of roughly $16.2 million against MRI provider Orthopaedic and Neuro Imaging LLC (ONI) for violating the False Claims Act through the company’s fraudulent submissions to Medicare. ONI’s owner, Richard Pfarr, was held jointly and severally liable for just over $6 million of that amount. ONI operates independent diagnostic testing facilities in Delaware and Maryland. See DOJ Press Release.
According to the government complaint, ONI and Pfarr knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare by administering contrast dye during MRI scans on patients without proper supervision by a physician. Contrast dye is a chemical injected intravenously into the body in order to make certain tissues more clearly visible on an MRI. In announcing the settlement, the government pointed to the case as exemplifying “the utility of the False Claims Act to deter fraudulent conduct, protect patient safety, and save taxpayer dollars.”
The allegations originated in a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act by ONI former employee Robin White. Ms. White will receive a whistleblower award of roughly $3 million (or an 18% share) from the proceeds of the government’s recovery.
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