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MERG persuades Court to rebuff healthcare provider’s efforts to limit discovery in FCA case

The U.S. District Court of Maine has ordered AB Home Health Care (“AB Home”) to produce additional documents and communications that AB Home sought to shield from discovery in a False Claims Act (“FCA”) lawsuit the Maine Employee Rights Group (“MERG”) filed against it.  The Complaint in this FCA lawsuit alleges that AB Home fraudulently billed MaineCare for in-home personal support services performed by unqualified individuals.  These unqualified individuals did not undergo the training required for personal support specialists.

MERG’s client worked for AB Home from January 2014 to June 2015 and AB Home argued that the Court should shield from discovery any documents or communications that fell outside the dates of her employment.  The Court rejected AB Home’s argument.

MERG attorney Chad Hansen obtained evidence in discovery that, of the eight personal support specialists AB Home employed during his client’s tenure with the company, five were hired before she began working there.  Furthermore, AB Home could only provide training certifications for two of these eight personal support specialists.  Also, Hansen uncovered evidence that at least one of AB Home’s personal support specialists continued to provide services without any evidence of receiving the requisite training after his client separated from AB Home and after the filing of the FCA lawsuit.

AB Home argued that Hansen’s client was responsible for making sure that personal support specialists received the requisite training and it did not know that she had failed to do so.  Of course, the fact that AB Home failed to properly train its personal support specialists before and after Hansen’s client’s employment would cast doubt on this assertion.  Hansen’s client maintains that AB Home knew about the training deficiency and she was not the one who decided to fraudulently bill MaineCare for services that unqualified personal support specialists provided.

The Court ordered AB Home to produce documents related to this issue from January 17, 2012, to November 2017, which is when MaineCare suspended AB Home’s ability to bill for its services; and communications between AB Home and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) regarding compliance with preconditions for MaineCare payments between March 6, 2011, and November 2017.  This order will assist MERG in determining what is in these documents and communications which AB Home had sought to shield from discovery.