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Androvett NewsWire: July 26, 2012: Medicare Fraud | Voter ID | Weight Loss Pill
 
July 26, 2012 10:17 am

Dallas Physicians Group Sued Over Fraud Claims
A former employee of Dallas' Texas Vascular Associates, PA, (TVA) says the physicians' group fired her because she refused to fraudulently bill Medicare and private insurance companies for patient services. Cortez Mills says that, among other things, the doctors directed her to invoice two different insurance companies for the same work and bill for services that had not been performed. When she objected, she claims that one supervisor told her, "He pays your salary, do what he says." Eventually, she was fired. "Ms. Mills identified what we believe was an illegal scheme at TVA, and she lost her job for refusing to play along," says her attorney Matt Scott of the Kendall Law Group in Dallas. The case against TVA includes a polygraph report indicating that Mills is telling the truth, as well as an affidavit from a former co-worker who says she also was asked to take part in the alleged fraud. For more information, contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 or mark@androvett.com.

Voter ID Law Headed to Washington
During the trial over its voter identification legislation, which requires citizens to show a valid photo ID to vote, the State of Texas repeatedly undercut the Department of Justice's claims. However, the state may not have done enough to meet its high burden of proof under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, according to political legal consultant and Dallas attorney Chris Gober of Gober Hilgers PLLC. "In one instance, the State of Texas forced Democratic State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer to admit on the witness stand that he had previously made false claims that his mother did not possess a valid photo ID. But even that type of testimony does little to help the state prove its case," says Gober. "This could end in a U.S. Supreme Court showdown that ultimately decides the fate of the Voting Rights Act." For more information, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or rhonda@androvett.com.

Caution Warranted for New Weight Loss Pill
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week approved Vivus Inc.'s highly anticipated diet drug Qsymia. But FDA approval isn't a golden ticket, cautions attorney Rick Meadow, head of The Lanier Law Firm's Pharmaceutical Litigation Division. "The FDA is limited in what it can review in new drug approvals," says Meadow, who was part of the legal team that won the nation's first Vioxx verdict. "The agency doesn't do its own testing, and simply relies on the testing and 'good faith' of drug companies instead." Qsymia is a combination of the drugs Phentermine and Topomax, both of which have been linked to safety concerns, says Meadow. "Based on historical problems with weight loss pills, and the facts we've uncovered about drug companies in other instances, doctors and potential patients should closely monitor aftermarket testing, marketing and adverse event reports for Qsymia." For more information, contact Alan Bentrup at 800-559-4534 or alan@androvett.com.

Technology, Law Clash in Twitter Contempt Case
Upset with plea bargains offered to two teenagers who sexually assaulted her, a Kentucky high school student was hit with contempt charges this week after violating a court order by posting the names of her attackers on Twitter. The assailants' attorneys withdrew the motion after the media reported the story. Jonathan Smaby, executive director of the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and author of TCLE's "On the Merits" blog, says this is another example of growing conflicts between technology and the law. "Courts that handle cases involving juveniles routinely order that no one discuss the case because of the potential harm to both the victims and defendants. It's a means of trying to protect the young people who become involved in the criminal justice system, and it typically works well," Smaby says. "In this case, we're seeing how the Internet has changed the playing field." For more information, contact Bruce Vincent at 800-559-4534 or bruce@androvett.com.

Court May Affirm Gene Patent
A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., is reviewing its ruling of last year that a Utah company can be the exclusive U.S. provider of genetic screenings for breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The Federal Circuit previously upheld Myriad Genetics' patents on two genes that can signal if a woman faces greater risk of developing the diseases. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Federal Circuit to reconsider the case in light of its ruling in a different case that tightened rules on medical-testing patents. "The Myriad case illustrates the enormous role the federal judiciary will play in defining the direction of the life sciences market," says Paul Skiermont of Dallas' Skiermont Puckett. "This case could resolve the multibillion-dollar question of whether a potential cure for cancer from DNA sequencing and extraction is a patentable invention, or a patent-ineligible discovery of a law of nature." For more information, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

Survey Highlights Importance of Biz Development
A recent report by The National Law Journal on the progress of women partners at the nation's largest law firms highlights the critical importance of being a business generator, says Kathleen Wu, a partner in the Dallas office of Andrews Kurth. "The survey tracked the number of equity partners, and that's a direct reflection of who's bringing in business," says Wu, a frequent columnist on issues affecting women in the legal profession. "There are a lot of factors impeding women's progress in the law, and we need to address those. But we absolutely must make business generation skills a critical part of the mix. I advise young lawyers, regardless of gender, to keep an eye out for 'best practices.' Who's bringing in business and how are they doing it? Equity partners are business owners, so lawyers who want to make partner need to have a business owner mindset." For more information, contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or rhonda@androvett.com.

Surplus Leading to Terminal Conversions
Plans are under way to convert at least eight terminals originally proposed to handle the import of liquefied natural gas into the U.S. into export facilities. "Although each of these proposals will be heavily scrutinized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy, this is a positive development given the surplus of domestic natural gas and plenty of willing buyers of LNG among Asian and European interests seeking long-term supplies," says Doug Pedigo in the Houston office of Thompson & Knight. The LNG facilities will chill natural gas to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit to prepare the product for overseas transport by ship. "Any LNG purchaser would also be interested in making an equity investment in an export terminal to provide a hedge against commercial uncertainty and performance risk. It makes good business sense to have some skin in the liquefaction market overall." For more information, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.


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