Dr. Richard Ottomeyer denies wrongdoing as one of 46 defendants accused of receiving kickbacks
A Forest Lake doctor is one of nearly 50 defendants in a federal lawsuit filed by insurance companies Oct. 14 in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
Richard Ottomeyer is among 46 chiropractors accused of engaging in an illegal kickback scheme coordinated by a mobile diagnostic imaging clinic.
Ottomeyer owns Ottomeyer Clinics, PLLC at 967 S. Lake Street. Through an attorney, he denied any wrongdoing.
“Unfortunately, it takes very little effort to bring a lawsuit against someone who has done nothing wrong,” said Dulce Foster of Minneapolis-based Fredrikson & Byron P.A. in a prepared statement.
The plaintiffs – Illinois Farmers Insurance Company, 21st Century Insurance Company and Bristol West Casualty Insurance Company – allege that the chiropractors worked with Edina-based Mobile Diagnostic Imaging Inc. to conduct MRIs through referrals that were in violation of anti-kickback statutes and, in many cases, unnecessary.
It is illegal in Minnesota to offer or receive any remuneration in return for referrals for services with costs that are covered under a benefits program. The lawsuit states that the chiropractors referred patients to Mobile Diagnostic Imaging, which conducted the MRIs in a self-sufficient trailer on or near the clinics’ properties. In exchange, plaintiffs claim, the clinics received payments made under the guise of offering space for lease and renting out items like office equipment and Internet access.
The lawsuit alleges that defendants exploited the Minnesota No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act. The legislation, dating to 1974, requires, among other things, personal injury protection coverage that provides medical and wage loss benefits regardless of fault. This coverage is a primary reason for the higher cost of auto insurance in Minnesota compared to surrounding states.
Several states that once used the no-fault system repealed it due to cost and susceptibility to fraud. In Minnesota, insurance companies must pay up to $20,000 per medical claim under the act.
Mobile Diagnostic Imaging documents filed as exhibits with the lawsuit show rent payments due to clinics over 11 months in 2011. Ottomeyer Clinics was owed $7,700, or $700 from each of 11 days the scanning trailer came to the clinic during this time period.
The plaintiffs ask the court to hold the chiropractors listed as defendants accountable under state anti-kickback laws, a federal racketeering law, and several common law doctrines. They seek payment of damages from each clinic and requested a jury trial.
The Insurance Federation of Minnesota characterized the case as evidence that legislative action is needed.
“Today’s lawsuit filing affirms what we’ve been telling lawmakers over the past two years – that insurance fraud is quickly growing in Minnesota,” said federation President Bob Johnson. “These unnecessary claims costs are eventually paid by policyholders through premiums that are higher than they need to be.”
Foster called the allegations baseless.
“Richard Ottomeyer cares deeply about his patients,” she said. “He refers them for scans only when they really need them, and they always make their own choice about where to have the scans done. Most of the time, they have chosen radiology services other than MDI.
“It is not uncommon for insurance companies to try to avoid payment for claims that they are legally obligated to pay, and this lawsuit is nothing more than a creative attempt to do just that.”