GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- The Department of Justice is asking a judge to make a default judgement against ProCare Counseling Center, two labs, and Oaketree Medical Centre, which is the parent company of Pain Management Associates, in a federal lawsuit.
In the motion for default judgement filed Wednesday, the DOJ said the defendants billed taxpayers millions in false claims to government healthcare programs such as Medicare.
In a motion filed Wednesday, government attorneys said companies have not offered any defense, so they want the judge to take action now.
The filing shows for the first time the total amount that the DOJ seeks to recover in the case.
In the motion, government lawyers said they could have asked up to $987,879,398 in penalties, but instead they’re asking for penalties of about $140 million, which is less than 25 percent of false claims mentioned in the filing, according to the motion.
“I think the government wanted to show to the judge that they’re being reasonable in the calculation of the damages,” Rothstein said. “They used the low end of the penalty scale.”
In court documents, government attorneys claim doctors got kickbacks for over-prescribing opioids because the more opioids they prescribed, the more urine drug testing connected labs could do. That’s because those who take opioids are drug tested to make sure they’re taking their medication properly.
“There was a tremendous amount of money to be made in the testing, the urine toxicology testing for these substances,” said attorney David Rothstein, who represents whistle-blowers who first took legal action against the group.
Pain Management Associates filed for bankruptcy last year and has since shut down its practices.
“The United States understands that the Defaulting Defendants may not be able to pay an FCA [False Claims Act] judgment based on the full scope of damages they caused,” the motion said. “As a result, to save the time and resources of the parties and the Court, the United States seeks a default judgment on a limited subset of alleged conduct for the causes of action in its Complaint that are referenced below.”
Attorneys for the defendants in the case declined to comment.