A lawsuit has been filed against a Cape Girardeau neurosurgeon and his fiancée. They are accused of getting kickbacks from medical device makers.
The Department of Justice has filed a complaint against Midwest Neurosurgeons L.L.C. and its owner, Dr. Sanjay Fonn, M.D. The suit also names DS Medical L.L.C. and its owner, Deborah Seeger.
According to a news release from the DOJ, the couple is accused of violating the Medicare Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act.
Fonn and Seeger are accused of conspiring to solicit and receive commissions from medical device makers. This was in relation to the purchase of spinal implants and supplies used during spinal fusion surgeries performed by Fonn.
Jim Martin the lawyer for Fonn says Midwest Neurosurgeons is continuing to operate normally.Dr. Fonn still seeing patients.
For anyone worried about their appointments, there will be no diversion from the typical schedule. according to Martin.
He said it could be two years before they go to trial, and in the meantime, they’ll be dealing with the courts.
Fonn is not commenting on the case or allegations.
Fonn's attorney said he feels very confident that in time they will be able to prove many of the allegations are false.
Fonn's fiancée, Deborah Seeger, has a separate attorney.
"The Department of Justice remains committed to protecting federal healthcare programs from unscrupulous providers who seek to take advantage of those programs," said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery. "We are particularly concerned about schemes such as this one that not only waste taxpayer money but also pose a potential risk to patient safety."
The government’s complaint alleges Seeger demanded and was paid exorbitant commissions by medical device manufacturers for medical devices and supplies.
They were bought by the hospital where Fonn performed spinal fusion surgeries.
The hospital’s purchases were based on Fonn’s decision to use those devices during the operations, according to the DOJ.
According to the complaint, Fonn used more spinal implants in each of his surgeries.
According to the DOJ, commissions paid to D.S. Medical and Seeger by the manufacturers were allegedly used to buy a house where Fonn and Seeger lived.
The commissions also were also allegedly used to buy a boat, an airplane and various home improvements, which the couple shared.
The allegations were originally brought in a lawsuit filed under provisions of the False Claims Act by several physicians, a spinal implant sales person and a former employee of Midwest Neurosurgeons.
Under the False Claims Act, a person that submits false or fraudulent claims to the government is liable for three times the government’s damages plus civil penalties for each false claim.
The act permits private citizens to sue on behalf of the government and share in any recovery.
The United States is entitled to intervene in such a lawsuit.
The case was filed by the DOJ, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri with help from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the FBI.