Insights | News

Government Joins Whistleblower Case Filed By JGL Against Hospital And Spine Doctor

GREENBELT, MD – June 27, 2019 – The Department of Justice joined a lawsuit filed by Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, P.A. on behalf of two physician whistleblowers against South Dakota hospital, Sanford Health, neurosurgeon Wilson Asfora, M.D., and his company, Medical Designs. The complaint alleges a scheme involving unlawful kickbacks and medically unnecessary spinal surgeries.   

The complaint recounts the numerous efforts over many years by the physician whistleblowers to have Sanford take appropriate actions to stop the alleged unlawful kickbacks and the resulting unnecessary spinal surgeries. As alleged in the complaint, Sanford repeatedly failed to take corrective measures, and the physicians felt they had no choice but to bring their concerns to the federal government “as a last resort” by the filing of a whistleblower complaint.

The False Claim Act (qui tam) lawsuit was made public today after the federal court in South Dakota unsealed the case and the United States Department of Justice filed its notice of intent to join the suit. The government is expected to file its own complaint in intervention in 60 days.

“We look forward to litigating this case side-by-side with the government,” said Veronica Nannis, who, with her partner Jay Holland, represents the whistleblowers in this case.

Holland and Nannis touted the three-year investigation performed by the government, particularly DOJ Trial Attorney Chris Terranova and Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan Roche from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sioux Falls. “The government’s full intervention here after a careful and thorough investigation underscores its interest in protecting patients and rooting out fraud,” said Holland.

Greenbelt, Maryland based Joseph, Greenwald & Laake filed the lawsuit under seal in August 2016. Robert Anderson is local counsel. The case is captioned US ex rel Bechtold v. Sanford Health, et al., Case 4:16-cv-04115-LLP (S.D.).


Jay Holland is a partner at Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, and is Chair of the Firm’s Labor, Employment and Qui Tam practice. His False Claims Act cases have resulted in recoveries of over $600 Million for the United States. His recent publications include articles for The National Law Journal, Trial Magazine, DC Trial Lawyer, and the Maryland State Bar Association Employment Law Deskbook.

He can be reached at

Veronica Nannis is a partner at Joseph, Greenwald & Laake and serves as the Chair of the Firm’s Civil Litigation Department. A Super Lawyer’s Rising Star in DC and Maryland for the last several years, she was also awarded the Maryland Association for Justice’s Trial Lawyer of the Year Award in 2011 with the team from Joseph, Greenwald & Laake. Recent publications include those for Law 360, the ABA Health e-Source and The Daily Record. She can be reached at

Subscribe to JGL Insights

With our attorneys’ wealth of industry knowledge, we specialize in providing leading information to our clients.

Let’s Talk.