Billings, Mont.: A health clinic in a Montana town plagued by deadly asbestos contamination must pay the government almost $6 million in penalties and damages after it submitted hundreds of false asbestos claims, a judge ruled.
The 337 false claims made patients eligible for Medicare and other benefits they shouldn’t have received. The federally funded clinic has been at the forefront of the medical response to deadly pollution from mining near Libby, Montana.
The judgement against the Center for Asbestos Related Disease clinic comes in a federal case filed by BNSF Railway in 2019 under the False Claims Act, which allows private parties to sue on the government’s behalf.
BNSF — which is itself a defendant in hundreds of asbestos-related lawsuits — alleged the center submitted claims on behalf of patients without sufficient confirmation they had asbestos-related disease.
After a seven-person jury agreed last month, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said in a July 18 order that he was imposing a stiff penalty to prevent future misconduct.