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United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
November 13, 2018, Submitted; February 11, 2019, Filed
[*1161] BENTON, Circuit Judge.
Stephanie A. Strubbe, Carmen Trader, and Richard Christie sued Crawford County Memorial Hospital (CCMH) as relators in a qui tam action for violations of the False Claims Act. 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a). They also sued CCMH and its Chief Executive Officer, Bill Bruce, for violating the FCA's anti-retaliation provision. § 3730(h). The district court1 granted CCMH's motion to dismiss all counts of the complaint, except Strubbe's retaliation claim. As for it, the district [**2] court granted CCMH's motion for summary judgment. Strubbe v. Crawford Cnty. Mem. Hosp., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 220263, 2017 WL 8792692 (N.D. Iowa Dec. 6, 2017). Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court affirms.
Crawford County Memorial Hospital is a county-owned nonprofit hospital in Iowa. In April 2012, Bruce became its Chief Executive Officer.
At CCMH, Strubbe was an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and Christie [*1162] and Trader were paramedics. They filed a sealed qui tam complaint as relators in April 2015. The United States declined to intervene. The relators filed an amended complaint. It alleges that CCMH submitted false claims for Medicare reimbursement and made false statements or reports to get fraudulent claims paid. Specifically, Count I alleges that CCMH violated the FCA by submitting (1) claims for breathing treatments administered by paramedics; (2) claims for laboratory services done by paramedics and EMTs; (3) claims with false credentials of service providers; (4) claims for EMT and paramedic services at Eventide, L.L.C. and Denison Care Center; and (5) cost reports with improper reimbursements and payments to vendors for non-CCMH expenses. Count II alleges CCMH knowingly made or used false statements to get false claims paid, including (1) records documenting breathing treatments [**3] at 30 minutes; (2) records listing paramedics as "specialized ancillary staff" for breathing treatments; (3) reimbursement requests and invoices for improper payments for non-CCMH expenses; (4) documents with false credentials for emergency medical staff; and (5) cost reports with false costs. Count III alleges that CCMH conspired with Eventide to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b.
Strubbe, Trader, and Christie also sued CCMH and Bruce for violating the FCA's anti-retaliation provision. According to the complaint, Strubbe began reviewing hospital financial documents in July 2014. Soon after, she "spoke to all Board members about the financial situation of CCMH [and] her belief that the finances were not adding up." In November, Strubbe tore her rotator cuff at work. Initially, CCMH put her on "light duty." In July 2015, however, CCMH told Strubbe her light-duty assignments were a financial hardship for the hospital and moved her to part-time status. CCMH removed Strubbe from part-time status in March 2016 (effectively a termination).
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
915 F.3d 1158 *; 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4025 **
United States of America, ex rel. Stephanie Strubbe; Carmen Trader; Richard Christie, relators, Plaintiffs - Appellants v. Crawford County Memorial Hospital; Bill Bruce, Individually, Defendants - Appellees
Subsequent History: Rehearing denied by, Rehearing, en banc, denied by United States ex rel. Strubbe v. Crawford Cty. Mem'l Hosp., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 8380 (8th Cir. Iowa, Mar. 20, 2019)
US Supreme Court certiorari denied by United States ex rel. Strubbe v. Crawford Cty. Mem. Hosp., 2019 U.S. LEXIS 7179 (U.S., Nov. 25, 2019)
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa - Sioux City.
Strubbe v. Crawford Cnty. Mem. Hosp., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 220263 (N.D. Iowa, Dec. 6, 2017)
breathing, false claim, allegations, paramedics, details, protected activity, billing, pleaded, retaliation claim, fraudulent, district court, termination, records, reimbursement, staff, protected conduct, particularity, retaliation, employees, patient, notice, documents, license, prima facie case, summary judgment, qui tam, violations, part-time, expenses, reliable
Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Pleadings, Heightened Pleading Requirements, Fraud Claims, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Governments, Federal Government, Claims By & Against, Pleading & Practice, Pleadings, Labor & Employment Law, Discrimination, Retaliation, Elements, Statutory Application, False Claims Act, Legislation, Interpretation, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Elements, Protected Activities, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Burdens of Proof