Mass tort litigation over ‘fake’ tort awards hits ‘high tide of litigation’

New York City attorneys are suing dozens of hospitals over allegations that they inflated hospital rates, with one hospital in particular accusing its rivals of being complicit in a $500 million fraud scheme.

New York City Civil Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said the lawsuits will seek millions of dollars in damages and a halt to hospital practices and practices in the city, according to a statement.

The suit seeks to stop the defendants from defrauding New York hospitals and hospitals in the surrounding state of $5.8 billion in Medicare reimbursements, the statement said.

New Jersey Attorney General Joseph Foster said the suit was the largest he has filed in the country, with a total of more than 1,000 lawsuits, but declined to disclose the identities of plaintiffs.

The cases were filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Manhattan, and New Jersey Superior Court, New Jersey, the attorneys said.

In all, the New York suits target five hospitals in Manhattan, four in Brooklyn, two in Queens, and one each in Brooklyn and Queens, according the statement.

New Orleans’ Public Defender Service, which has defended some of the state’s most high-profile defendants, has joined the lawsuits.

The cases are among a wave of lawsuits alleging hospitals overcharged for treatment and lost money from Medicare reimburseings, an estimated $500 billion over the past decade, according a 2016 study by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Vance said he will seek “prosecutorial discretion” to limit the lawsuits’ scope, as well as to prevent hospitals from engaging in fraudulent practices.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Velasquez said his office is also launching lawsuits, calling the cases a “shakedown” that seeks to intimidate hospitals from seeking reimbursement from the federal government.

New England’s Attorney General Maura Healey said the actions “are being coordinated and will be coordinated vigorously,” including a “coordinated and vigorous effort to bring these actions as soon as possible.”

The New York cases are part of a broad nationwide trend of lawsuits accusing hospital systems of overcharging.

New Jersey is also among a growing number of states to file suit over hospital overcharges.

In the New Orleans lawsuit, the defendants, including the New Jersey Hospital Association and the New Haven Hospital Association, are seeking to collect millions of federal reimbursements that could be in jeopardy if the cases are successful, according Toobin.

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