WHEELING, W.Va. — The federal Department of Justice is now involved in a lawsuit failed against Wheeling Hospital.

In a press release, the DOJ indicated they were going after the hospital under the False Claims Act. The suit alleges the hospital made improper payments and kickbacks to physicians. The suit also names R & V Associates, Ltd., and Ronald Violi.

The government claims they violated the Stark Law-which prevents a hospital for billing Medicare for services refereed by doctors who have an improper financial relationship with the hospital. The case also claims the hospital’s compensation to several doctors constituted a kickback scheme which is forbidden.

The hospital however pushed back hard Friday in a strongly worded statement.

“The complaint brought today is entirely without merit and an unfair attack on the dedicated physicians of Wheeling Hospital. We believe this lawsuit stems from the personal vendetta of a disgruntled former employee and are confident that Wheeling has not defrauded the U.S. Government in any way. For nearly 170 years, we have provided world-class health care to a community that too often is not afforded the quality services it deserves. Wheeling Hospital is a charitable non-profit and the region’s largest employer of West Virginians. We will thoroughly defend these baseless claims, while remaining fully committed to serving the good people of the Northern Panhandle every single day. Wheeling Hospital will have no further comment at this time,” –Heidi Porter, Wheeling Hospital’s vice president of hospital and regulatory affairs.