Dr. Sonny Rubin Faces Fraud Lawsuit? (2024)

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Dr. Sonny Rubin is a certified doctor recognized by the American Board of Anesthesiology and the American Board of Pain Medicine. He studied Zoology at the University of Florida and earned his Medical Degree from Saint George’s University School of Medicine after completing his internship at Jersey Shore Medical Center.

Dr. Rubin further specialized in pain management at both USC Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center. He is affiliated with various medical societies like the American Pain Society, American Academy of Pain Medicine, and International Spine Intervention Society.

Recently, Dr. Rubin has been sued for fraud.

Dr. Sonny Rubin is accused of fraud.

Dr. Sonny Rubin, a pain management specialist in Orange County, is facing a fraud lawsuit from both Allstate and State Farm. The lawsuit alleges that Rubin overcharged insurers, and the case revolves around the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (IFPA) of California.

Under the IFPA, insurers or other parties can file qui tam claims, also known as whistleblower lawsuits, seeking damages for fraudulent claims. The law allows for fines of $5,000 to $10,000 for each false bill, with the potential for triple the amount charged in damages.

In September 2019, Allstate filed a qui tam lawsuit against Dr. Sonny Rubin, accusing him of fraudulent claims related to treating auto-accident claimants. A month later, State Farm also filed a lawsuit against Rubin, alleging a similar overbilling scheme and seeking damages for false claims submitted to any insurer.

The legal battle involves the interpretation of the first-to-file rule in the IFPA, which typically prevents further legal action after a lawsuit has been filed. However, a panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled in December that the rule does not bar separate cases from different insurers seeking penalties for different sets of false claims.

Both Allstate and State Farm claim to be victims of Rubin’s alleged fraudulent scheme. Allstate accuses Rubin of recommending unnecessary treatments and inflating claims to increase revenue. State Farm’s lawsuit provides further details, alleging that Rubin billed for procedures not performed or medically necessary, resulting in substantial overpayments.

Allstate seeks damages of at least $34,110,000, while State Farm claims to have paid $6 million in false billings and is also suing for damages related to claims made to other insurers.

Dr. Sonny Rubin’s legal counsel did not respond to requests for comment, and the case continues to unfold in court. The outcome will have significant implications for the interpretation and enforcement of insurance fraud laws in California.

Court Decision in People ex rel. Allstate Insurance Co. v. Dr. Sonny Rubin

In the case of People ex rel. Allstate Insurance Co. v. Dr. Sonny Rubin, the Fourth District Court of Appeal made a significant ruling regarding the applicability of California’s anti-SLAPP statute to medical reports and billing statements submitted as evidence in insurance claims. The decision, published on June 28, 2021, clarified that such documents do not fall under the protection of the anti-SLAPP law.

Details of the Case:

Allstate filed a qui tam lawsuit against Dr. Sonny Rubin under California Insurance Code section 1871.7, alleging fraudulent behavior. The claim focused on Rubin’s creation of false or deceptive medical reports and bills submitted to the insurance carrier in support of claims.

Dr. Sonny Rubin invoked the anti-SLAPP statute, seeking dismissal of the case. The statute protects individuals from Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, but its application depends on whether the activity in question supports a person’s right to petition or free expression.

Rubin argued that his medical records and expenses were prepared as potential evidence for litigation by plaintiff lawyers in personal injury cases. He treated patients on liens, allowing their attorneys to deduct his fees from any settlement, judgment, or verdicts.

Court Ruling:

The Fourth Appellate District upheld the trial court’s decision to deny Rubin’s anti-SLAPP motion. The court concluded that Rubin failed to demonstrate that the medical reports and billing statements were created in anticipation of pending legal disputes.

The appellate court adopted the trial court’s analysis, highlighting three key points:

  1. Rubin’s liens on patient fees acknowledged the potential for litigation, but did not prove pre-litigation behavior.
  2. Rubin did not establish that his bills and reports constituted protected pre-litigation activity.
  3. The creation of medical records and bills was deemed part of the normal course of business for doctors, undermining the claim of protected activity.

The ruling broadened the application of the anti-SLAPP Act in insurance claims, extending its scope beyond first-party claims to include third-party claims. This decision empowers insurers to take legal action against healthcare providers suspected of fraudulent practices.

Dr. Sonny Rubin’s Anti-SLAPP Motion Rejected

The Fourth District Court of Appeal’s Division Three upheld the rejection of Dr. Sonny Rubin’s anti-SLAPP motion, confirming the decision of Judge William D. Caster of Orange Superior Court. Rubin, a Newport Beach pain physician, faced allegations in a civil lawsuit of overbilling insurance companies for patients referred by plaintiffs’ lawyers.

In an unpublished opinion authored by Justice Eileen C. Moore, the court affirmed Judge Caster’s decision to deny Rubin’s anti-SLAPP motion. Allstate Insurance Company brought the lawsuit against Dr. Sonny Rubin, M.D. Inc., Coastal Spine, and Orthopedic Specialists, Inc., as well as the Newport Institute of Minimally Invasive Surgery, alleging a conspiracy to submit false reports and billing statements.

The defendants argued that their actions were protected under the right to petition, considering the creation of bills and reports as part of pre-litigation activities for patients pursuing personal injury claims.

Moore’s opinion highlighted Rubin’s failure to demonstrate that the medical reports and billing records were prepared in anticipation of litigation contemplated in good faith. It was concluded that Rubin prepared these documents as part of routine business practices, with litigation being merely a possibility if discussions with the insurance company did not yield desired outcomes.

The court determined that the mere possibility of litigation did not meet the criteria for protected pre-litigation action under the anti-SLAPP legislation.

Fake paid reviews

Online reviews significantly impact consumer purchasing decisions, but not all reviews can be trusted. Fake reviews are prevalent and can affect companies of all sizes. Here are some common sources of fake reviews:

  • Service providers or sellers offering both positive and negative reviews for purchase, often found in schemes selling Google reviews.
  • Business owners and marketers creating fake reviews to attract customers, including falsely criticizing competitors.
  • Former employees leaving negative reviews out of spite after termination.
  • Individuals with personal connections to a business or brand, such as friends, family, or coworkers, leaving biased positive reviews.
  • Customers leaving negative reviews in exchange for discounts, refunds, or other incentives.

Identifying Fake Reviews

Most business review platforms employ filters or systems to automatically detect fraudulent reviews. Recognizing and reporting fake reviews can help brands and customers address the issue effectively.

Step 1: Review the Reviewer’s Profile

Examining the author of a review is a key step in verifying its authenticity. Take time to inspect details on the reviewer’s Facebook, Twitter, or review website profile. Look at their location, account creation date, review activity, employment information, and social media presence. If the profile seems suspicious, consider flagging the review.

Step 2: Look for Specifics

Analyzing the level of detail provided in a review can help identify potential fakes. Genuine reviews often offer detailed accounts of the user’s experience with the product or service. Look for specifics about how the product was used or where the service was received. If the review lacks concrete examples or genuine customer experiences, it may be fake.

Step 3: Watch for Repetitive Brand Mentions

Repeated mentions of a brand, product name, or model could indicate a promotional or advertising piece rather than an authentic review. Be cautious of reviews that excessively promote specific products. Additionally, be wary of reviewers who provide comments on numerous products within a short timeframe, as they may be compensated for their reviews.

Step 4: Review the Language

Pay attention to the language used in the review. Look for words and phrases that seem unnatural or overly promotional. If the review contains terms that typical consumers wouldn’t use, it may be fake. Avoid reviews with exaggerated or overly enthusiastic language.

Step 5: Contact the Review Site

If you suspect a review is fake, consider reaching out to the review site’s administrators or support team for further investigation. They can assess the review and take appropriate action, such as removing it from the platform if found fraudulent. Taking proactive steps to address fake reviews helps maintain the integrity of online review systems.

Legal Implications of Fake Reviews

Writing fake reviews violates the terms of service of all business review websites and can lead to legal consequences. Attempting to manipulate the reputation of your brand or competitors through fake reviews may result in legal action being taken against you.

Offering incentives to customers for reviews can also have negative consequences. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” reviews are considered endorsements.

It is necessary to disclose any incentives, payments, or close connections between the reviewer and the business. Even if a review is not required to be positive, offering incentives is still considered unlawful by the FTC.

In summary, while soliciting customer feedback is acceptable, rewarding reviewers can have legal implications if not done transparently and in accordance with FTC guidelines.

Consequences of Writing Fake Reviews

Some businesses resort to fabricating customer reviews to enhance their reputation and attract new customers. This practice, known as “review astroturfing,” not only breaches customer trust but also undermines the hard-earned reputation of other businesses. If caught, submitting fake reviews can lead to severe consequences for both individuals and brands.

Legal Action and Fines:

Businesses found guilty of publishing false reviews may face legal action and hefty fines. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and consumer advocacy groups are known to take action against such practices. Recent cases include:

  • A weight loss supplement manufacturer settling with the FTC.
  • An online tasking platform fined $600,000 for fake reviews.
  • A cosmetics company and its CEO accused of posting fake reviews without disclosure.
  • A music instruction DVD seller fined $250,000 for fabricating reviews.

Financial Losses and Reputational Damage:

False reviews can result in significant financial losses due to legal fees, fines, and damage to brand reputation. Being exposed for fake reviews can lead to negative publicity, permanently tarnishing the brand’s image.

In summary, writing fake reviews is not only unethical but also carries serious legal and financial consequences, along with irreparable damage to a brand’s reputation.

What actual customers say about Dr. Sonny Rubin.

About the author

James Assali
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