EmCare Pays $30 million to Settle Qui Tam Claims by VSG Clients and Others
Washington DC December 19, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Justice announced today that it has settled “qui tam” (whistleblower) / False Claims Act lawsuits alleging that EmCare, Inc. received illegal remuneration from a major hospital chain in exchange for pressuring hospital emergency room (ER) doctors to increase the rate of ER-to-hospital admissions.
One of the lawsuits settled by today’s agreement is a South Carolina lawsuit (US ex rel. Meyer & Cowling et. al v. HMA, Newsome, Emergency Medical Services Corp. and EmCare, 11-cv-01713 (D.S.C. 2011)) that has been pending since 2011.
The suit was filed under seal on July 15, 2011 in the U.S. District Court in South Carolina by the Washington DC whistleblower law firm Vogel, Slade & Goldstein and the Columbia, S.C., law firm Wyche, P.A. The South Carolina qui tam lawsuit was filed by Jacqueline Meyer, a former EmCare administrator who managed EmCare’s contracts with 20 HMA hospitals, and Michael Cowling, a former HMA Division Vice-President who served as CEO at three HMA hospitals. The complaint alleges that both Cowling and Meyer were fired by their employers in 2009 and 2011 respectively, after they each refused to coerce ER doctors to admit more patients. Ms. Meyer and Mr. Cowling will share in the $6.2 million relators’ award from today’s settlement. In addition, Ms. Meyer reached a confidential settlement with EmCare on her whistleblower retaliation claims.
Meyer and Cowling also filed qui tam whistleblower claims against Health Management Associates (HMA), the hospital chain, and its former CEO Gary Newsome. The Department of Justice joined in those claims and the lawsuit against these defendants is ongoing.
The Meyer/Cowling lawsuit was filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act that authorize individuals with information about fraud against the government to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the government and to share in the government recoveries. Ms. Meyer and Mr. Cowling are represented by Janet Goldstein in the Washington DC law firm Vogel, Slade & Goldstein, LLP, and John Moylan in the Columbia, SC law firm Wyche, P.A.