False Claims Act Case Against Indiana Pain Clinic Survives Motion to Dismiss

Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich of the Northern District of Indiana on Wednesday denied a motion to dismiss a case against a physician and the Centers for Pain Control Inc. (CPC), finding that the relator’s claims hold up to the required pleading standard.

Physician Dion Snider filed a qui tam action in May 2018 alleging that the defendants were operating a fraudulent billing and kickback scheme, in violation of the FCA, the Indiana False Claims and Whistleblower Protection Act, and the federal anti-kickback statute. Snider claimed that CPC promised — and gave out — free massage therapy sessions to Medicare and Medicaid patients who purchased trigger point therapy and failed to bill the federal health programs for the massage therapy sessions.

“As a result, Dr. Snider claims that the defendants illegally induced Medicare and Medicaid patients into purchasing trigger point therapy with the incentive of a free massage,” the court explained.

Snider also alleged that the defendants retaliated against him by withholding his pay and then terminating him because he raised objections to the defendants’ purported conduct.

In moving to dismiss, the defendants contended that Snider’s argument lacks the specificity that would render allegations plausible; however, the court disagreed with the defendants.

“Dr. Snider has sufficiently plead(ed) that the defendants knowingly and willfully offered free massage therapy by claiming that the defendants created a flyer advertising free massages in exchange for the purchase of trigger point therapy,” the court found.

On the defendants’ attempt to poke holes in Snider’s contention that CPC submitted any claims at all to Medicare or Medicaid, the court said Snider’s outlining was adequate: He alleged that 90% of CPC patients participate in Medicare or Medicaid, along with detailing plausible evidence of the claim submissions.

“Dr. Snider has provided factual allegations showing the billing codes used for patients who received free massages on the same date they purchased trigger point therapy and a different billing code for those who received a massage on a date when trigger point therapy was not purchased,” according to the court.

Because Snider sufficiently pleaded all of his allegations, his claim of retaliation necessarily survives, the court said.

Paganelli Law Group LLC represents Snider, and the U.S. as intervenor retains internal counsel. L&G Law Group LLP represents the defendants.