Tuomey, Stark, FCA and Advice of Counsel

This has been a long saga, even by FCA standards: Judge orders Tuomey to pay $276.8 million for Stark, False Claims Act violations (via ModernHealthcare.com).

In summary:

A federal judge ordered South Carolina’s Tuomey Healthcare System to pay $276.8 million for violating laws that bar hospitals from paying doctors to refer Medicare patients for treatments.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Margaret Seymour ruled against Tuomey (PDF) on virtually every post-trial issue and granted the government’s request to impose $39.3 million in Stark penalties and another $237.5 million in False Claims Act fines. Seymour also rejected Tuomey’s attempts in legal filings to nullify the verdict.

The damage amount is believed to be the largest of its kind against a community hospital in U.S. history, involving more than 21,000 Medicare claims that a jury said violated the Stark law and the False Claims Act. The claims were worth a total of $39.3 million.

Here’s the post-trial order and opinion.  Note especially the discussion of the jury’s rejection of the advice of counsel defense.  If you retain a lawyer, you have to be careful about terminating the relationship.