The False Claims Act prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee "because of" his or her protected conduct. In a case of first impression recently decided, Lestage v. Coloplast Corp., the First Circuit explained the meaning of "because of." Lestage, a salesperson, sued Coloplast alleging that, after it learned she had filed a qui tam action against it and against one of its customers, Coloplast retaliated against her in violation of the False Claims Act by placing her on leave and then assigning her inferior accounts when she returned. A jury trial awarded Lestage $762,525 in compensatory damages. Coloplast unsuccessfully moved for judgment as a matter of law and new trial, and then appealed. The First Circuit affirmed the judgment.
A magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts recently held the peer review privilege did not apply in a case alleging health care billing fraud. In Wollman v. Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Lisa Wollman, a former anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital ("MGH"), brought a qui tam action under the False Claims Act and the Massachusetts False Claims Act, alleging that MGH and its physicians organization fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid for "overlapping and concurrent surgeries that required two patients to be under anesthesia at the same time." In addition to alleging these overlapping surgeries were fraudulent billing practices, Dr. Wollman alleged they endangered patients by placing them under anesthesia for longer than necessary, violated informed consent regulations, violated recording keeping regulations, and caused the government to pay for teaching physicians who were not present during key parts of the surgeries.