The U.S. Supreme Court is now in its summer recess and we anecdotally have heard of Justice “sightings” in Europe and beyond. This last session of the Court addressed many issues capturing both the political and popular imagination. Less headline-grabbing and relatively modest in length (at only nine pages) was Justice Clarence Thomas’ opinion for a unanimous Court in Cochise Consultancy, Inc. et al. v. U.S. ex rel. Hunt. (587 U.S. ____ (2019)) It directly impacts our healthcare compliance practice here at Nossaman by interpreting the statute of limitations for a False Claims Act (“FCA”) case so as to stretch it as long as possible.
On July 22, 2019, the California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in Wilson v. CNN.1 The primary question before the court concerned the application of the anti-SLAPP statute, Civil Procedure Code Section 425.16, to employment, discrimination, and retaliation claims. The factual scenario before the court involved a journalist who alleged that his employer, CNN, denied him promotions, gave him unfavorable assignments, and ultimately fired him for unlawful discriminatory and retaliatory reasons.2 The employer responded by contending that the journalist was ...
On May 7, 2019, the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Wilson v. Cable News Network, Inc., et al., where plaintiff was a producer at CNN who sued the media giant for employment discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, and defamation after he was terminated for alleged plagiarism. Wilson is of particular importance to the healthcare community, including hospitals, medical staffs, peer review committees, and practitioners, because it will impact the application of anti-SLAPP Special Motions to Strike under Civil Procedure Code Section 425.16 in suits ...
A Civil Investigative Demand, often referred to as a CID, is a pre-litigation mechanism used to collect information and evidence for use in civil false claims act and other investigations. CIDs are typically lengthy documents, broadly drafted, invasive, and even frightening. In the past decade since the passage of the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009, CIDs have been issued at exponentially higher rates than in years past, and have become more comprehensive and more aggressive.
While this post will focus on Department of Justice CIDs in federal health care cases, CIDs are ...
In a decision affecting California hospitals, medical groups, medical staffs, and physicians, the California First District Court of Appeal has concluded that a physician’s notice and hearing rights apply to situations where a hospital directs a medical group of a closed department to remove a physician from the hospital schedule.
In Economy v. Sutter East Bay Hospitals, Sutter Hospital operated a closed anesthesia department pursuant to a contract with East Bay Anesthesiology Medical Group (East Bay Group). The exclusive contract required all physicians providing ...
On September 19, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Patient’s Right to Know Act of 2018 (SB 1448), which will require practitioners to notify their patients when they are placed on probation on or after July 1, 2019 for the following offenses:
- The commission of any act of sexual abuse, misconduct, or relations with a patient or client;
- Drug or alcohol abuse directly resulting in harm to patients or to the extent that such use impairs the ability of the practitioner to practice safely;
- Criminal conviction directly involving harm to patient health; or
- Inappropriate ...
On Friday, June 22, 2018, a Florida Appeals Court handed down its decision in Omulepu v. Department of Health Board of Medicine. The case involved a doctor's appeal from a decision by the Florida Department of Health, Board of Medicine to revoke a plastic surgeon's right to practice medicine. The main issue on appeal was the effect of the doctor's invocation of his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.
In criminal proceedings, a defendant's invocation of his Fifth Amendment privilege cannot be used against him. Juries are instructed in criminal cases that they cannot draw ...
In a rare move, the California Court of Appeal reversed itself and validated a California hospital’s policy of allowing healthcare workers to waive an otherwise mandatory second meal period on shifts longer than 12 hours. In reversing itself, the California Court of Appeal in Gerard v. Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center (Gerard II) held that its previous decision in Gerard v. Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center (Gerard I) [see our prior discussion re Gerard I here], partially invalidating healthcare meal waivers, was incorrect.
California Labor Code section 512(a) requires that two meal periods be provided for any employee working shifts longer than 12 hours. However, Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Wage Order No. 5 carves out an exception to this requirement for employees in the healthcare industry. The Wage Order permits healthcare employees to waive one of their two meal periods on shifts longer than 8 hours even when their shift exceeds twelve hours.
In Gerard I, the Court found that IWC Wage Order No. 5 was partially invalid to the extent it authorized second meal break waivers by healthcare workers on shifts longer than 12 hours. Thus, Gerard I invalidated these meal period waivers. In response to the uncertainty created by Gerard I, Governor Brown signed SB 327 as an emergency measure on October 5, 2015, effective immediately. Although SB 327 confirmed that employees in the healthcare industry who worked shifts longer than eight hours could voluntarily waive their right to one of their two meal periods, even where shifts lasted longer than 12 hours, it only affected meal period waivers entered into on or after October 5, 2015. Now, as a result of Gerard II, healthcare employers in California will not face retroactive liability if they used such waivers prior to October 5, 2015.
On January 19, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement which would resolve allegations that competing ophthalmologists violated federal antitrust laws when they refused to negotiate contracts with MCS Advantage, Inc. (MCS), a Medicare Advantage Plan, and Eye Management of Puerto Rico (Eye Management), MCS’s network administrator.
According to the complaint, the charges arise from an arrangement between Eye Management and MCS entered into in April, 2014. Eye Management agreed to create and manage a network of ophthalmologists to provide services to MCS enrollees and to do so at a cost savings to MCS. Eye Management planned to replace MCS’s existing contract with each individual ophthalmologist with a new contract between Eye Management and the ophthalmologist at a lower reimbursement rate. In early June 2014, Eye Management sent a proposed contract to every ophthalmologist contracted with MCS at the time. These contracts offered payments at rates that were about 10% lower, on average, than the rates under the existing contracts between MCS and each ophthalmologist.
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