Federal Lawsuit Regarding Alleged False Claims Dismissed against Axiom and All Defendants!
FLORIDA: On May 20, 2009, United States District Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington dismissed, with prejudice, the lawsuit styled United States of America ex rel., Greg Westfall and Suzanne Westfall vs. Axiom Worldwide, Inc.; Axiom Worldwide, LLC; James J. Gibson, Jr.; Nicholas Exarhos; Timothy Exarhos; Peer Review Network, Inc.; Case No. 8:06–CV–571–T–33TBM. The lawsuit, filed by Greg and Suzanne Westfall on behalf of the United States under the federal False Claims Act, had been pending in the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, since 2006.
Lawsuits filed under the False Claims Act are commonly referred to as “qui tam” suits.
Greg Westfall is a former independent sales representative for Axiom Worldwide, and Suzanne Westfall, his wife, served as his assistant. In their complaint, the Westfalls alleged that Axiom’s DRX devices are mechanical traction devices, and that Axiom and others devised a sales scheme to promote the sale of the Axiom products by knowingly, falsely, and fraudulently using misleading representations to physicians, which they knew would cause physicians to submit false and fraudulent claims for payment to Medicare and other federal healthcare programs for services rendered with Axiom’s devices.
The Westfalls filed their original sealed complaint on April 5, 2006. A search warrant was executed upon Axiom’s corporate headquarters on March 8, 2007, and the case was subsequently unsealed. Later that year, on August 3, 2007, the United States declined to intervene in the lawsuit. As a result, Axiom Worldwide filed a motion on February 19, 2008, to dismiss the complaint with prejudice. The very next day, the Westfalls and their attorneys filed a motion to amend their original complaint, which was granted. On March 31, 2008, the Westfalls filed their first amended complaint with the Court. In response to the content of the Westfall’s amended complaint, Axiom again filed a motion to dismiss on June 10, 2008.
On March 20, 2009, the court dismissed the first amended complaint without prejudice, noting, “Reading the first amended complaint carefully, this court was not able to connect with any certainty the numerous allegations with the individual defendants.” On April 6, 2009, the Westfalls filed a second amended complaint containing nineteen counts against the defendants. Once again, and in response to the content of the Westfalls’ second amended complaint, Axiom filed a motion to dismiss, and on May 20, 2009, the Court granted Axiom’s motion to dismiss with prejudice. A dismissal with prejudice closes the case, unless the Court’s decision is appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal and the decision is reversed.
In its conclusion, the Court wrote, “[t]his court roundly refuses to open the door to discovery and litigation when, after three attempts, Relators failed to file a complaint in compliance with Rule 9(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Thus, upon due consideration, this Court dismisses this case with prejudice.” To view the Court’s order in its entirety, visit www.AxiomWorldwide.com.
U.S. House of Representatives Approves Expanded Armed Forces Access to Chiropractic, Overseas Demonstration Project
VIRGINIA: The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a directive that orders the Pentagon to make chiropractic care a standard benefit for all active duty military personnel. The legislation is contained in HR 2647, a bill authorizing defense programs in fiscal year 2010, and is based in part on recommendations from the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) and the Association of Chiropractic Colleges (ACC).
The bill—passed by the full House on June 25—also contains language allowing for chiropractic demonstration projects at overseas military locations and clarifies that chiropractic care at U.S. military facilities is to be performed only by a doctor of chiropractic.
“When signed into law, this legislation will pave the way for expanded access within the military health care system to the critical services offered by doctors of chiropractic—both stateside and overseas,” said ACA President Glenn Manceaux, DC. “ACA leaders are dedicated to this effort and will settle for nothing less than full access to chiropractic.”
In 2008, the House passed similar language in the form of HR 5658; however, that provision was not included in the Senate version of the bill.
To date, there is a doctor of chiropractic at 49 military bases around the country; however, according to a 2005 Government Accountability Office report, only 54 percent of servicemen and women eligible for chiropractic care can reasonably access the benefit.
This latest development comes on the heels of an announcement by TRICARE that, beginning this fall, 11 additional military hospitals and clinics will provide access to chiropractic services for active duty military members, including facilities in Germany and Okinawa, Japan.
ACA members and other doctors of chiropractic with questions should e-mail [email protected]
American Chiropractic Association