Judge Grants Moore & Van Allen Trial in Years-Long Healthcare Retaliation Litigation
Moore & Van Allen PLLC (MVA) is pleased to announce that, following 13 years of contentious civil litigation and arduous fact and expert discovery, the Western District of North Carolina entirely denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment in Mason v. Health Management Associates, Inc. Thus MVA, on behalf of the plaintiffs, Thomas L. Mason, et al., will now prepare for trial by jury and ultimate pursuit of justice in a matter involving the fraudulent and retaliatory actions of a major regional healthcare group.
In the order denying summary judgment, which was issued on Aug. 16, 2023, Judge Kenneth D. Bell wrote that the case “stalks this Court’s docket ‘like some ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad.’” (quoting Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free Sch. District). Judge Bell determined, among other things, that the plaintiffs have sufficient evidence for a jury to find that they engaged in protected activity and there is a link between their actions and ultimate contract termination. He also determined that the plaintiffs offered sufficient evidence from which a jury could rule in their favor on claims for tortious interference with contract, defamation, and unfair and deceptive trade practices, and thus also denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment on those claims as well.
The lawsuit arises out of a nationwide scheme by the defendants, Health Management Associates, LLC, (formerly Health Management Associates, Inc., Mooresville Hospital Management Associates, LLC, doing business as Lake Norman Regional Medical Center, and Statesville HMA LLC, doing business as Davis Regional Medical Center) to generate illegal revenues by submitting false claims to Medicare, Medicaid, other federally funded healthcare programs, private healthcare insurers, and self-payors for medically unnecessary hospital admissions involving emergency room (ER) patients at all of Health Management Associates’ (HMA) then 60+ hospitals.
The plaintiffs, Board-certified ER physicians , and their Charlotte-based ER physician staffing practice, Mid-Atlantic Emergency Medical Associates, PLLC (MEMA) assert that because of their complaints and efforts to thwart HMA’s highly illegal and fraudulent practices, HMA retaliated in the terms and conditions of their work, ultimately terminating their two longstanding ER contracts with both Lake Norman Hospital and Davis Hospital in May 2010.
In September 2010, Plaintiffs, as relators, filed a sealed qui tam complaint against HMA asserting various claims. The government intervened in the qui tam action and conducted a fulsome investigation spanning eight years, eventually reaching a settlement with HMA.
Then, in February 2019, plaintiffs’ private claims were remanded to the Western District of North Carolina. The government’s settlement with HMA had specifically excluded a number of MEMA’s private claims against HMA, including:
- retaliation under the federal and North Carolina False Claims Act (FCA)
- violation of North Carolina’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act ( NCUDTPA)
- tortious interference with a contractual relationship
- defamation and slander
- claims for attorneys’ fees and costs
In addition to MVA Member Thomas D. Myrick, the plaintiffs are represented by MVA Member Benjamin E. Shook, and Associate Sarah A. Sheridan; James F. Wyatt III and Robert A. Blake of Wyatt & Blake, LLP; and Marc S. Raspanti and Pamela Coyle Brecht of Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP.
- Business Court Litigation
- Civil Litigation
- Class Actions
- Commercial Litigation
- Commercial Real Estate
- Consumer Disputes
- Corporate Governance & Shareholder Relations
- Financial Regulatory Advice & Response
- Financial Services Litigation
- Health Care
- Litigation, Regulatory & White Collar
- Real Estate & Construction Disputes
- Securities & Capital Markets Litigation
- Trust, Estate, Tax & Fiduciary Disputes
- White Collar & Government Enforcement Defense