Federal court orders MRI operator to pay $16.2 million judgment

Whistleblower employee will walk away with nearly $2.9 million.

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U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware entered judgment for $16.2 million against Orthopaedic and Neuro Imaging LLC for submitting false claims for Medicare reimbursement.

Under the terms of the judgment, ONI’s owner, Richard Pfarr, is liable for the judgment in the whistleblower case that will net a former employee millions of dollars.

ONI operates independent diagnostic testing facilities (IDTFs) in southern Delaware and Salisbury, MD.

The Court granted the United States’ request for default judgment on its complaint, which alleged that ONI and Pfarr knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare by administering contrast dye during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans on patients without proper supervision by a physician. Contrast dye is a chemical that is injected intravenously into the body in order to make certain tissues more clearly visible on an MRI.

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“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware is committed to combatting health care fraud and protecting Medicare beneficiaries using all available remedies,” said Acting U.S. Attorney David Weiss. “This case exemplifies the utility of the False Claims Act to deter fraudulent conduct, protect patient safety, and save taxpayer dollars.”

The original lawsuit was filed by Robin White, a former employee of ONI. The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private parties to sue on behalf of the United States for false claims for government funds, and to receive a share of any recovery. The False Claims Act permits the government to intervene in such a lawsuit, as was done in this case. Under the terms of the Court’s judgment, White will receive an 18-percent share of the recovery.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer L. Hall and Laura Hatcher handled the case on behalf of the United States.

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