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United States of America Ex Rel Rodney Repko v. Guthrie Clinic

April 18, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL RODNEY REPKO, PLAINTIFF
v.
GUTHRIE CLINIC, P.C.; GUTHRIE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, INC.; ROBERT PACKER HOSPITAL; TERENCE DEVINE, M.D.; AND GUTHRIE HEALTH, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge James M. Munley United States District Court

(Judge Munley)

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is defendants' motion in limine filed in anticipation of the court's hearing on their motion to dismiss. Having been fully briefed, the matter is ripe for disposition.

Background

This case involves Relator Rodney J. Repko's claims that Defendants Guthrie Clinic, Guthrie Healthcare System, Robert Packer Hospital, Dr. Terrance Devine and Guthrie Health engaged in large-scale health-care fraud involving millions of dollars in reimbursements from federal programs. Relator Rodney Repko formerly served as General Counsel for the Guthrie Clinic and Guthrie Heathcare System. In July 2004, relator filed a complaint pursuant to the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 2729.

On June 5, 2006, the United States notified the court that it did not wish to intervene in the case. (Doc. 27). Relator then filed an amended complaint. (Doc. 29). On April 26, 2007, the government again notified the court that it did not intend to intervene in the case. (Doc. 35). Since that time, relator has prosecuted this qui tam action alleging fraud on the United States government.

"In broad strokes, the FCA imposes penalties on persons who knowingly submit fraudulent claims to the government." United States ex. rel. Paranich v. Sorgnard, 396 F.3d 326, 332 (3d Cir. 2005). In an attempt to expose "fraud against the government, the FCA incentivizes private individuals aware of such fraud to bring civil actions as relators against those submitting such claims by allowing relators to collect a percentage of any recovery." Id. Before filing a civil "qui tam" action, "the relator must disclose the information regarding the fraud to the government." Id. If the government does not choose to intervene in the action within sixty days, "the relator may continue with the action unless the FCA's jurisdictional bar provision is triggered." Id. That jurisdictional bar provides that:

No court shall have jurisdiction over an action under this section based upon the public disclosure of allegations or transactions in a criminal, civil, or administrative, or Government Accounting Office [sic] report, hearing, audit, or investigation, or from the news media, unless the action is brought by the Attorney General or the person bringing the action is an original source of the information.

United Sates ex. rel. Mistick PBT v. Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, 186 F.3d 376, 382 (3d Cir. 1999) (quoting 31 U.S.C. § 3730(e)(4)(A)).

As such, courts have enumerated five elements which, if met, divest courts of jurisdiction over FCA qui tam claims: "(1) there was a 'public disclosure; (2) 'in a criminal, civil or administrative hearing, in a congressional, administrative, or Government [General] Accounting Office report, hearing, audit or investigation, or from the news media'; (3) of 'allegations or transactions of the fraud; (4) that the relator's action was 'based upon'; and (5) the relator was not an 'original source' of the information." Paranich, 396 F.3d at 332. In this context, an "original source" is "'an individual who has direct and independent knowledge of the information on which the allegations are based and has voluntarily provided the information to the Government before filing an action under this section which is based on the information.'" Id. (quoting 31 U.S.C. § 3730(e)(4)(B)). The court must determine whether the jurisdictional bar applies to each of relator's claims.

Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss based on this standard. The court has scheduled an evidentiary hearing on the issue, and defendants filed the instant motion in limine to preclude certain evidence and testimony. The parties briefed the issue, bringing the case to its present posture.

Jurisdiction

Plaintiff brings this claim pursuant to the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 2729, et seq. The court therefore has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising ...


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