Dr. Vatan believes that QTC not only defrauded the federal government, but also scammed hundreds of thousands of veterans in the process. He says veterans were denied disability benefits because QTC reviewers were under pressure to review and process 160,000 claims in a short period of time.
QTC Medical Services - a Lockheed Martin company - is the biggest government contractor and has most of its contracts with the Department of Veterans Affairs for Veterans Disability Examination. The QTC department in charge of the VA contract was called Nehmer and 20-25 employees, including Vatan, worked under this contract. The Nehmer contract was QTC’s first experience in manually reviewing veterans’ claims.
“They [reviewers] were not well prepared as they had no training, nor did they have any quality control in place,” says Vatan. “QTC pressured employees to review and process as many veterans as possible - and they were given bonuses per performance.” Vatan also said the medical providers [doctors] who countersigned each report signed up to 80 files in 2-3 hours a day they spent at QTC without reviewing those records.
Vatan’s complaint resulted in a threat of disciplinary action and termination if the minimum daily quota was not met. So he filed a Qui Tam suit with the Department of Justice. Vatan claims that QTC did not give its employees the necessary training to spot evidence of illnesses linked to Agent Orange and pressured employees to work at a pace that made it impossible to thoroughly review the file.
In a statement to McClatchy, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Florida, the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said, “This lawsuit raises a number of serious questions... Every veteran’s VA claim deserves a thorough and objective review. Our investigation will continue until we are satisfied that’s the case in this situation.”
But the lawsuit brought by Vatan against QTC was dismissed because Vatan didn’t know the terms of the contract.
Vatan and his attorney are appealing this lawsuit and it is currently at the pleading stage. “We are confident that we can articulate what the trial court got wrong in its case,” says attorney Robert Sherlock at Eisenberg, Gilchrist & Cutt (EGC Legal), Salt Lake City.
“The court said that Vatan didn’t have the underlying contract. In any large entity such as QTC, there is a compartmentalization of functions, so one person working in one segment may not have the entire contract,” says Sherlock. “The more compartmentalized the entity, the less likely it is that one person will have that information.”
The court said that David Vatan doesn’t have the contract so he cannot describe what that contract is. In other words, the court says that, if you don’t have a contract, you cannot say what you do...
At the pleading stage the court is legally required to accept allegations as true and must give the plaintiff, David Vatan, the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the evidence that is pled. “We have the guide for QTC produced by the VA that says what QTC can do,” adds Sherlock. So the case is on appeal and a briefing schedule is set for the end of August. And there are a number of organizations, including VA supporters, who will request permission to file Amicus Curiae, which literally means friend of the court.
“The Court has the discretion to allow a reputable organization, if it has something to say that is trying to help [nearly 250,000] veterans,” Sherlock explains. “The parties at the end of this chain of events are the veterans; we believe these ‘friends’ have a vested interest in making sure the veterans get a fair and honest shake.”
Sherlock believes their case will be successful on appeal “and the issues of law will be clarified.”
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My final word of advice to our veterans is to stay away from QTC. Refuse to engage in any of their services and ask our federal government and the VA to provide you with a more reliable alternative.”
The case is United States of America et al v. QTC Medical Services, Inc. et al, Federal Civil Lawsuit California Central District Court, Case No. 2:14-cv-08961.