BALTAZAR v. WARDEN (February 18, 2011)
Advanced Healthcare Associates hired chiropractor Kelly Baltazar in 2007. Within a very short period of time, Baltazar concluded that the AHA staff regularly submitted inflated bills to the federal government. Baltazar resigned and filed suit under the False Claims Act. Judge Norgle (N.D. Ill.) dismissed the suit on the ground that the allegations were based on already public disclosures. The court based its conclusion on several federal government reports that established "prevalent fraud" by chiropractors. Baltazar appeals.
In their opinion, Chief Judge Easterbrook and Judges Kanne and Wood reversed and remanded. The Court conceded that there had been numerous allegations of fraud with respect to chiropractors. In fact, the report relied upon by the district court concluded that over half of the claims reviewed for that particular study were inflated. But Baltazar's allegations were not based on the study or the report. They were based on her personal knowledge of the practices of AHA. In concluding that Baltazar could proceed with her suit, the Court noted that no appellate court has held that a report of widespread fraud in a particular industry forecloses a False Claims Act suit against every member of the industry.