In a decision of special interest to academic medical centers, a federal court in Tennessee last Wednesday refused to dismiss a False Claims suit brought by three physician whistleblowers against Vanderbilt Medical Center. They allege that Vanderbilt billed Medicare for supervising physicians when, in fact, no supervising physicians were present.
Vanderbilt moved to dismiss, arguing that the allegations failed the requirement that a fraud claim allege with particularity the time, place, and content of the fraud. The court acknowledged that the plaintiffs’ failure to identify specific false claims was an important factor to consider but nevertheless ruled that they had alleged enough to create a “strong inference” of false billing. U.S. v. Vanderbilt (Mid. Dist. Tenn. 3:11-CV-00467).
It’s important to bear in mind that in ruling on a motion to dismiss, a judge assumes for the sake of argument that the plaintiffs’ allegations are true. That doesn’t mean that they are true or even that the judge believes them.