Lawsuit accuses Tampa attorney Barry Cohen of violating attorney-client privilege

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Barry Cohen, one of the most high profile attorneys in the Tampa Bay area, is being sued by a company who says that he used confidential information in a whistleblower case against them, leading to a second whistleblower case.

In a court filing submitted on March 28 in Hillsborough County’s 13th Judicial Circuit, Rose Radiology says it is suing Cohen and his law firm for malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and damages.

Rose Radiology is a provider of radiology services and has offices in multiple locations in the Tampa Bay area. In February, it agreed to pay $8.71 million to the government to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by billing federal health care programs for radiology procedures that were not medically necessary or furnished in violation of applicable Federal regulations. The company never admitted wrongdoing, however, saying that it decided to settle rather than spending millions litigating the federal government.

Cohen disputes the charges, according to a report in another Tampa daily. His office never returned this reporter’s request for comment Monday morning. SaintPetersBlog delayed publication of this story on Monday awaiting a response, which never came.

According to the lawsuit filed last week against Cohen, Rose Radiology says it was in March of 2013 that they received a subpoena from the Department of Defense regarding a whistleblower complaint related to Tricare reimbursements. Tricare is the healthcare plan for active duty military members, retirees, eligible National Guard and Reserve service members

Dr. Manuel Rose, the CEO of Rose Radiology, then obtained legal counsel, but also was interested in hiring Cohen, who the suit says advertises that “The Barry A. Cohen Legal Team is your best defense against False Claims, qui tam, criminal defense, and commercial & civil litigation.”

The two men had an approximately eighteen minutes on April 17, 2013. In the suit, Rose emphasizes that the discussion was confidential. During the discussion, the suit claims that Cohen “expressed surprise” that there the subpoena did not relate to Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements. He also asked Rose ” very pointed and specific questions about Rose Radiology’s business practices, some of` Which had no relation whatsoever to the substance of` DOD Subpoena, including, but not limited to advertising practices, distribution of` tickets to events, and probed into referral relationships with other physicians.”

He then asked Rose to send him a copy of the DOD subpeona.

Rose says he never heard back from Cohen.

Two months later, however,  Rose Radiology learned that a New York law firm named Milberg had begun contacting former Rose Radiology employees, in an effort to find someone to file a lawsuit against Rose.

Finally in August of 2013, Rose Radiology received the first whistleblower complaint that referenced the original DOD subpoena. It was called the Schimke Complaint.

Six months after the Rose conversation with Cohen, Rose Radiology received a second whistleblower complaint.

“When they finally received a complaint from the Milberg,” the suit says, “they saw that the employee pursuing the new, second whistleblower complaint was a woman named Katrina Miller, who was being represented by Cohen. Upon reading the allegations contained in the Miller Complaint, it became apparent to Rose Radiology that many of the pointed questions Attomey Cohen asked of Dr. Rose during the Confidential Conversation was not for the purposes of defending Rose Radiology. Rather, the questions were for the purpose of obtaining information from Rose Radiology to determine if there were other potential causes of action a relater could potentially assert against Rose Radiology through a second qui Iam action.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at