Using the False Claims Act to Improve Patient Care in Rural Georgia

On April 29, 2015, the Middle District of Georgia and the State of Georgia’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit announced a settlement in a False Claims Act case against the Hospital Authority of Irwin County, operator of a hospital in Ocilla, Georgia, for $520,000.

The qui tam was brought to the attention of the authorities by Relators Connie Brogdon and Summer Holland, X-Ray technicians in the hospital who were very concerned about patient safety due to the lack of physician supervision in the ER. The pair were also concerned about the questionable arrangements among the hospital’s management.

The Relators sought help from The Hornsby Law Group and Bothwell Bracker, PC, and the case was handled from intake through settlement by the team of Julie Bracker and Jason Marcus (now of Bracker and Marcus LLC). The pair worked closely with Assistant United States Attorneys Charles W. Byrd and Todd Swanson of the Middle District of Georgia, and Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth White of the Georgia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

In addition to the financial settlement, the Hospital agreed to a five year "Corporate Integrity Agreement," under which it will report its efforts to remain in compliance with federal and state regulations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Relators Brogdon and Holland received a share of the $520,000 qui tam settlement, as well as $47,000 in settlement of individual retaliation claims against the hospital.

Julie Bracker and Jason Marcus are fiercely proud to have had a hand in this settlement which, though small for an FCA settlement, sets right concerns about patient safety in rural Georgia. And equally important, the firm is proud to have successfully guarded the rights of the two relators, who had witnessed these problems firsthand on a nightly basis. When they addressed their concerns with management, Relator Brogdon was fired and Relator Holland was ostracized and forced to work alone. Having exhausted their internal remedies, and having been retaliated against for doing so, the Relators discovered that the False Claims Act was a way to have their concerns investigated, and addressed, by the federal and state governments.

The case was investigated by Special Agent Mark Creamer of the Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General; Investigator Enedelia Bostrup of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia; and Investigator Tonia Medlin, Nurse Investigator Judy Cooper, Investigative Auditor Anita Reddick, and Analyst Carmen Staley, all of the Georgia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, a division of the Office of the Attorney General of Georgia.

Bracker & Marcus LLC congratulates Connie Brogdon, Summer Holland, the Middle District of Georgia, and the Georgia MFCU for a well-deserved settlement.