United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
ACADEMY HEALTH CENTER, INC. PLAINTIFF
HYPERION FOUNDATION, INC., DEFENDANTS
CARLTON W. REEVES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment.
Docket No. 243. The matter has been fully briefed, and the
Court is ready to rule.
explained in this Court's previous opinion, the war
between these parties began nearly a decade ago. See U.S.
ex rel. Academy Health Ctr., Inc. v. Hyperion Found.,
Inc., No. 3:10- CV-552-CWR-LRA, 2014 WL 3385189
(S.D.Miss. July 9, 2014). The instant battle involves the
qui tam action initiated by Academy Health Center,
Inc. on behalf of the United States Government. Docket No.
1-3. The Government intervened, became an ally of Academy,
and took over “that part of the action which alleges
that defendants Hyperion Foundation, Inc., AltaCare
Corporation, Long Term Care Services, Inc., and Douglas K.
Mittleider, made, caused to be made, and/or conspired to make
false claims and false statements material to false claims to
Medicare and Medicaid, for nursing home services at the
Oxford Health & Rehabilitation Center facility in
Lumberton, Mississippi.” Docket No. 32, at 2.
brought many other claims, and the Court dismissed all but
one. Academy, 2014 WL 3385189 at *22-41. The
remaining cause of action is against Defendants
HP/Ancillaries, Inc. (“HPA”), HP/Management
Group, Inc. (“HPM”), Sentry Healthcare Acquirors,
Inc. (“Sentry”), and Julie Mittleider
(collectively “Defendants”) for conspiring to
submit fraudulent claims for services purportedly provided at
the Oxford Health and Rehabilitation Center (“Oxford
Facility”) in violation of the False Claims Act.
more than three years of discovery and all of the skirmishes
thereto, Defendants have filed their motion for summary
judgment on Academy's lone claim. According to
Defendants, “the undisputed evidence shows that [they]
did not engage in conspiracy to defraud, Medicare, Medicaid
or any other third-party payor and there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact regarding this claim.”
Docket No. 244, at 2. Therefore, they are entitled to
judgment as a matter of law, and the upcoming trial should
only involve the claims pursued by the Government.
familiar summary judgment standard applies. See Hill v.
Hinds County, Miss., No. 3:12-CV-880-CWR-FKB, 2015 WL
1014305, at *2 (S.D.Miss. Mar. 9, 2015).
person who “knowingly presents, or causes to be
presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment” to
the Federal Government is liable under the FCA. 31 U.S.C.
§ 3729(a). Specific intent to defraud is not necessary
because “knowingly” is defined as acting with (1)
actual knowledge, (2) deliberate ignorance, or (3)
“reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the
information.” Id. § 3729(b)
liability also attaches to any person who conspires to
violate the statute. Id. § 3729(a). Evidence of
a shared “specific intent to defraud the
Government” is required in the conspiracy context.
U.S. ex rel. Farmer v. City of Houston, 523 F.3d
333, 343 (5th Cir. 2008). To this point, a plaintiff must
show “(1) the existence of an unlawful agreement [to
violate the FCA] and (2) at least one act performed in
furtherance of that agreement.” Id.; U.S.
ex rel. Wuestenhoefer v. Jefferson, 105 F.Supp.3d 641,
674 (N.D. Miss. 2015). The first prong is at issue here.
Foundation, Inc. (“Hyperion”) is a healthcare
company that assumed operation and management of the Oxford
Facility. Julie Mittleider, while serving as Hyperion's
president, authorized the company's participation in
Medicare and Medicaid programs. The participation agreements
for both required Julie to certify that she would not submit
claims with deliberate ignorance of their truth or falsity.
Academy says that Julie's deposition testimony from a
related bankruptcy case shows that she and Doug Mittleider
(Julie's husband) intended and agreed for her to do the
Q: All right. Can you describe to me your duties as president
of Hyperion Foundation, Inc., or, as this document exhibit 2
shows, the CEO and the CFO?
A: The only duty I have had was to sign my name to a paper as
president, and I have never -- I don't -- I have never
had a meeting, never done anything, never-- I don't know
anything even about Hyperion's business. I am ...