Seven Whistleblowers Team up to Blow the Whistle on Neurosurgeon and Medical Device Supplier for Allegedly Violating the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statute

First brought to the attention of the government in January 2012 by a qui tam lawsuit filed by several physicians, and others, the Justice Department announced that it has filed a Complaint-in-Intervention against Midwest Neurosurgeons LLC and its owner, Dr. Sanjay Fonn, and DS Medical LLC and its owner, Deborah Seeger, for allegedly violating the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act by conspiring to solicit and receive commissions from the medical device manufacturers related to the purchase of spinal implants and supplies used during spinal fusion surgeries performed by Dr. Fonn.

Less than 3 years after the qui tam was originally filed, the government investigation concluded that Dr. Fonn and his fiancee, Ms. Seeger, incorporated DS Medical LLC to serve as the distributor of medical devices and supplies to Dr. Fonn and his neurosurgery practice, Midwest Neurosurgeons LLC. Through DS Medical, Ms. Seeger allegedly was paid exorbitant commissions by medical device manufacturers for medical devices and supplies purchased by the hospital where Dr. Fonn performed spinal fusion surgeries. According to the government, the hospital’s purchases were based on Dr. Fonn’s decisions to use those devices and supplies, and because of financial inducements, Dr. Fonn increased his utilization of spinal implants in violation of federal law, as detailed in the Complaint.

The army of relators who teamed up for this case is especially noteworthy. Typically, cases of this nature involve a lone insider who witnesses the fraud. However, in this case, seven relators apparently signed on as co-relators. According to the original qui tam complaint, the relators were a spinal implant sales person, a former certified surgical assistant of Midwest Neurosurgeons, and five “experienced physicians who have seen prior patients of Dr. Sanjay Fonn, and can attest to his performance and recommendation of unnecessary medical procedures.”

Sometimes, it takes a village…