WHEELING — A Pennsylvania federal judge granted a request to transfer a case filed against Wheeling Hospital from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.
Federal Judge Marilyn J. Horan granted the venue transfer June 10. She noted in her opinion that oral argument was held on the motion to transfer on June 4.
Horan ruled that the defendants met their burden of proving that West Virginia was the proper venue and that "convenience and justice would be served by transferring" the case.
The case was originally filed under seal in 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania by the United States by Louis Longo against Wheeling Hospital, R&V Associates and Ronald L. Violi.
The government claims the hospital conducted fraudulent schemes to bill the federal Medicare program and that R&V Associates was hired to improve the hospital's financial situation in 2006.
With R&V, the hospital went from losing millions to profiting nearly $90 million.
Longo, the former executive vice president of Wheeling Hospital, argued that the hospital overpaid physicians who would direct business back to the hospital via services.
The government claims the defendants knowingly ignored requirements under the Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute.
At the end of 2012, shortly after Longo started his employment at the hospital, he saw a culture of R&V promoting the overcompensation of physicians considered most profitable to the hospital, according to the suit.
The government claims the arrangements made with several doctors were not reasonable and that the hospital violated the False Claims Act.
The government is seeking a jury trial. It is represented by Amy L. Easton and Jeffrey W. Dickstein of Phillips & Cohen; and Andrew M. Stone of Stone Law Firm.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia case number: 5:19-cv-00192