Missouri Justice Department Announces Settlement in Case Lasting Decade

31 Mar, 2023 F.J. Thomas

                               

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – A settlement has finally been announced in a Missouri case that has taken over a decade to investigate and process. Cape Girardeau Neurosurgeon Sonjay Fonn, DO, and his fiancée Deborah Seeger have agreed to pay out $825,000 to resolve allegations of violating the False Claims Act in the process of soliciting and receiving kickbacks. 

According to the settlement agreement, the couple owned Midwest Neurosurgeons, LLC and also DS Medical, LLC. Midwest Neurosurgeons specializes in neurosurgery and pain management, and is controlled and owned by Fonn. Owned by Seeger since its inception in 2008, DS Medical is a medical device distributing company specializing in spinal implants, with many of those implants allegedly used in Fonn’s surgeries. Seeger would typically receive around 50 percent in commission, which she would use to purchase gifts, such as yachts, and home improvements for Fonn’s residence.  

In 2012, a quit tam action was filed based the False Claims act. In July 2014, a federal suit was filed alleging that the pair had violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act by conspiring to solicit and receive commissions from medical device manufacturers related for the purchase of spinal implants used for Fonn’s spinal fusion surgeries. Then in September 2014, the pair were indicted. In 2018, a civil judgement for over $5.4 million was issued in the case as a result of treble damages and civil penalties connected to 228 spinal surgeries covered by Federal payers.

In 2017, Medicare suspended Fonn’s payments of over $410,000 based on allegations of fraud, to which Fonn denied. A Medicare auditor subsequently reviewed the claims in question and determined that Fonn had been overpaid by $899,000 based on the claims being outside the scope of Covered Conduct. In October of last year, Wisconsin Physicians Services, a government Medicare administrator issued a demand letter for the Medicare overpayments. Fonn filed an appeal, denying that the claims were overpaid.

Fonn and Seeger have agreed to pay out $825,000, of which $412,500 is restitution. As the settlement involves resolution of claims under the previous qui tam or whistleblower lawsuit, Paul Cairns, Dr. Terry Cleaver, Dr. Kyle Colle, Dr. Scott Gibbs, Dr. Paul Tolentino, Dr. Kevin Vaught, and Daniel Henson all stand to gain a portion of the proceeds. The shares to be paid out have not been determined. 

 

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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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