Two former employees of an Iowa dentistry chain helped the U.S. and Iowa government recover $300,000 from the company with a lawsuit they filed under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act.
Whistleblowers Todd Willson and Peggy Lemley filed their complaint in federal court in Cedar Rapids, accusing Lifepoint Dental Partners of billing the state Medicaid program for procedures that were either unnecessary or never performed.
Mr. Willson is the former chief financial officer for Lifepoint Dental and Ms. Lemley worked as a financial coordinator for Lifepoint until January 2015. Both plaintiffs were fired from their jobs, allegedly in retaliation for speaking out against what they alleged were practices of defrauding Iowa’s Medicare program.
“During their tenure at Lifepoint … Willson and Lemley became aware of multiple instances of fraud, including submitting false claims to Medicaid, which revealed a culture of dishonesty and fraudulent billing practices,” the lawsuit asserts, according to the Des Moines Register.
The lawsuit alleges that while at Lifepoint, Mr. Willson and Ms. Lemley “noticed that a company vice president, Leann Sou, was filing false claims to Medicaid,” including “claims for services that were not performed or that were performed at locations not approved by Medicaid,” the Des Moines Register reported.
Mr. Willson alleges he was fired in June 2014, not long after he informed the company’s president of the alleged fraud, and that he was terminated under the guise of mishandling a problem at one of company’s six locations – a claim he denies.
The complaint alleges that Ms. Lemley was fired in January 2016 “for her efforts to investigate, call attention to and prevent defendants from continuing to engage in fraudulent activity, including making false claims to Medicaid.”
It is not clear whether the plaintiffs will seek compensation and damages for wrongful termination.
Mr. Willson and Ms. Lemley will share $45,000, 15 percent of the total settlement, as a whistleblower award.