New trial required for Missouri neurosurgeon's kickback case

Carly Behm -  

A Cape Girardeau, Mo.-based neurosurgeon and his then-fiancee who were fined nearly $5.5 million in a kickback case will face a new False Claims Act trial after the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Missouri ruled the jury that awarded damages didn't get full instructions, the Southeast Missourian reported July 27.

In 2018, Sonjay Fonn, DO, and his fiancee at the time, Deborah Seeger, were convicted of submitting false claims to CMS. Dr. Fonn used implants from Ms. Seeger's spine implant distributorship, DS Medical, in most of his surgeries from 2009 to 2012, and CMS reportedly paid for 228 cases using the devices. When Dr. Fonn used DS Medical implants, Ms. Seeger reportedly received a 50 percent commission.

The 8th Circuit court ruled July 26 that the jury wasn't told it had to find the anti-kickback violations influenced Dr. Fonn's decision to use the implants, the Southeast Missourian reported.

Curtis O. Poore, an attorney involved in the early stages of the case, told the Southeast Missourian "the judgment was based on a jury instruction that used the wrong burden of proof (and) it appears to me the two counts dismissed were done so without prejudice — meaning they could be pursued at a retrial if the government elects to try the case again."

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