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Arbitration to appeals, the long road of an FCA violation claim

A federal court recently ordered Tenet Healthcare, a multi-national investor owned healthcare services company based out of Dallas, Texas, to pay $10 million to two cardiologists. The ruling stems from a whistleblower case. In this case, the two cardiologists accused Tenet of False Claims Act (FCA) violations. The cardiologists, who were in leadership roles at the time, state the healthcare company fired them shortly after they reported issues within the organization that they claim had a negative impact on patient care.

How did the case move forward?

Instead of traditional litigation within the court system, the court ordered the disputing parties to move forward with arbitration. Arbitration is an alternate form of dispute resolution that focuses on negotiations instead of litigation.

The arbitrator found in favor of the physicians, stating Tenet acted “with malice” when leaders within the organization chose to fire the cardiologists after they voiced the concerns noted above. Tenet then took the matter to federal court in an attempt to have the court vacate the arbitrator’s decision. The court also found in favor of the cardiologists.

What happens next?

Tenet has one more option: to continue to appeal. It is now taking the matter to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

What can other healthcare service companies learn from this case?

These matters are not often easily resolved. This case began in 2019 when the physician originally filed suit. The appeals process will likely continue into the future. As such, those who find themselves facing similar allegations are wise to build a team to help better ensure their legal rights are protected throughout the process.