Archive for the ‘Qui Tam Litigation’ Category

Whistleblower Recieves $176,000 in Cochlear Case

$176,000 was just paid to qui tam whistleblower who filed a lawsuit against Cochlear Americas on behalf of the federal government. Whistleblower Brenda March filed the lawsuit as the company allegedly paid illegal remuneration to health care providers as an incentive to sell Cochlear devices.

The total settlement with Cochlear Americas was worth $880,000. The defendant company is a subsidiary of the Australian company Cochlear Limited.

March originally filed using provision in the Anti-Kickback Act and False Claims Act, saying that the company was clearly paying kickbacks to physicians who sold Cochlear devices to Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Posted in Anti-Kickback Statute, False Claims, Federal False Claims Act, Government Intervention, Healthcare Fraud, Qui Tam, Qui Tam Litigation, SettlementsNo Comments

Reform Could Increase Payouts to Whistleblowers

New financial reform legislation before Congress would allow an increase in multi-million dollar awards to whistleblowers. Ideally, this would create an environment where companies are pressured to report misconduct earlier and where whistleblowers will see the reward in bringing fraudulent activities to light.

Under the new law, the Securities and Exchange Commission would be required to award whistleblowers 30 percent of the total retribution or settlement gained from prosecution of the fraudulent company.

The False Claims Act had similar goals, although without the minimum reward requirement that would offer whisteblowers and lucrative and tangible incentive to report their company’s wrongdoings. Many experts agree that this type of incentive would go a long way toward convincing wary potential-whistleblowers who are afraid of losing their jobs or facing similar retaliation from the company they report. With significant financial incentive, blowing the whistle on misconduct gets a little easier.

Learn how the qui tam attorneys at Berg & Androphy have recovered hundreds of millions for the government and whistleblowers.

Posted in Federal False Claims Act, Qui Tam Litigation, RetaliationNo Comments

More Resources for U.S. Attorneys to Combat Civil Fraud

In an attempt to speed up civil fraud investigations in the U.S., Attorney General Eric Holder expanded the power of the False Claims Act by signing an order allowing U.S. Attorneys to issue civil investigative demands under the Act.

Civil investigative demand allows for a subpoena of documents, depositions and interrogatories. Currently the Justice Department can issue these investigative demands before it files a complaint or before signing on to qui tam litigation. This makes the information accessible before the potential defendant can conduct its own discovery.

Until this year, the Attorney General could exclusively approve civil investigative demands. Because of this limitation, they were not common. Last spring, however, an anti-fraud bill made its way through congress and subsequently established the practice of allowing the Attorney General to delegate the power to Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. In a further expansion, Attorney General Holder also allowed Assistant Attorney General Tony West to redelegatee such powers to U.S. Attorneys, with notice and reporting requirement.

Posted in Evidence, False Claims, Federal False Claims Act, Qui Tam LitigationNo Comments

Qui Tam Suit Against School Bus Service Provider

Laidlaw Transit, Inc., a company that provides busing services to California school districts, is being challenged by the First District Court of appeals on the basis of a Qui Tam case brought by plaintiffs claiming that the company falsified safety records and failed to meet state safety and environmental standards.

Because Laidlaw accepted payment while allegedly breaching the contract held with the city, they are liable under the False Claims Act. The case had previously been dismissed but has been revived by the Court of Appeals.

The case was brought to court by a private individual with knowledge about Laidlaw’s supposed misconduct. If Laidlaw is charged with damages in this case, the whistle blower will be awarded some of the money under the False Claims Act.

Posted in False Certifications, False Claims, Federal False Claims Act, Qui Tam LitigationNo Comments

Watchdog Group Blows Whistle On Guitar Hero Brands

A qui tam case filed in the Texas Northern District Court by a patent watchdog group (The Patent Compliance Group, the PCG) against Activision Video Game Products, the firm that owns the Guitar Hero line of video games and video game products, accuses the company of patent law infringement.

The lawsuit accuses the Activision brand of improperly labeling its products with the patent and patent-pending notation used to protect brand names from copyright infringement. The case involves provision 35 U.S.C. 292(a) which establishes that, “”… whoever marks upon, or affixes to, or uses in advertising in connection with any article the words “patent applied for,” “patent pending,” or any word importing that an application for patent has been made, when no application for patent has been made, or if made, is not pending, for the purpose of deceiving the public – Shall be fined not more than US$500 for every such offense (in this case per item sold).”

Even though Activision does have some patents currently pending, PCG claims that the patents the company has filed do not cover the scope the packaging notation has claimed.

Posted in False Certifications, False Claims, Qui Tam Information & Articles, Qui Tam LitigationNo Comments

Qui Tam Lawsuit Over Inferior PVC Pipe

A Qui Tam suit has been brought against J-M Manufacturing Co and Formosa Plastics Corp, the manufacturing company’s previous parent company. Four states, twenty-one water districts and twenty-two cities in California have brought the lawsuit following reports that J-M Manufacturing had been supplying sub-standard PVC pipe.

The suit accuses J-M of taking several “cost-cutting” measures, including producing inferior quality PVC pipe, filling supervisor positions with inexperienced workers and providing independent quality-testers with a higher quality sample of product than what was actually being provided to customers.

For cities using these PVC pipes for water management, inferior quality product means a bad investment in public infrastructure. John Hendrix, who worked as an engineer in the J-M’s product assurance department, blew the whistle on the manufacturing company’s product quality issues and was reportedly fired by the company a week later.

The suit states that Hendrix’s employment was terminated after he wrote a memo to upper management informing them that the tensile strength of the PVC pipe being supplied was below the certification agency standards provided by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.

Posted in False Certifications, Other Kinds of Fraud, Qui Tam LitigationNo Comments

Announcement of Pfizer’s Off-Label Settlement a Harbinger of Increasing Accountability

Last Wednesday, the Justice Department held a conference to announce Pfizer’s off-label criminal and civil settlement for its fraudulent marketing practices.

Pfizer’s subsidiaries will plead guilty to a felony violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for misbranding with the intent to defraud or mislead. It will pay a criminal fine of $1.195 billion and forfeit $105 million, bringing the total criminal settlement to $1.3 billion.

The civil settlement of $1 billion will resolve claims under the False Claims Act that Pfizer illegally promoted four of drugs (most notably the anti-inflammatory drug Bextra), caused false claims to be submitted to government healthcare programs for indications other than those approved by the FDA, and provided kickbacks to doctors to induce them to prescribe these drugs.

Pfizer has also entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services that will subject the company’s marketing practices to additional review procedures and safeguards to help avoid and promptly detect similarly offending conduct. For example, Pfizer’s executives will need to complete annual compliance certifications and the company will be required to make detailed disclosures on its website.

The settlement is notable enough for its sheer magnitude: it is the largest in the Department of Justice’s history; it also represents the largest criminal fine imposed ever in the United States for any matter.

But the story behind the story is also interesting. The settlement itself was already announced–and largely completed–by the Bush administration. But whereas the Bush administration was less likely to tout its strikes against big pharmaceutical companies, the Obama administration is happy to take the credit. This certainly signals a bleak future for the drug companies. The administration appears poised to go after these cases with more gusto, especially as it faces criticism for the high cost of Obama’s healthcare proposals.

In January, Eli Lilly and Company settled similar claims over its marketing of Zyprexa for $800 million. The success of that case can be traced directly to courageous stands taken by employee whistleblowers.

The six whistleblowers in the Pfizer case will share some $102 million of the federal portion of the civil recovery. As employee whistleblowers continue to work with the current administration, we can expect to see more of these announcements in the coming months.

Learn more about the Justice Department Conference
Learn more about Pfizer’s Corporate Identity Agreement
Learn more about Eli Lilly and Company’s Zyprexa case

Posted in Damages, Healthcare Fraud, Off-Label Marketing, Qui Tam Litigation, SettlementsNo Comments

When to Contact a Whistleblower Attorney

Do you know about fraud committed against the Federal or State government? It may be time to call a whistleblower attorney to represent you in court. This article will help you understand the basis for and method of filing a Qui Tam lawsuit or what is better known as a ”Whistleblower” lawsuit against a corporation or medical practice that is defrauding the government.

The False Claims Act (FCA) was originally passed during the Civil War, but was amended in 1986 and gives citizens a potential monetary reward for reporting fraud. Typically, the individual who has reported the fraud is an employee or former employee of the corporation in question. This individual, known as the “relator,” is the whistleblower.

Once the “whistle is blown” as it were, the Department of Justice will review the case and decide whether or not it wants to intervene. Since the 1986 amendments, whistleblower attorneys have been able to recover over $12 Billion.

You will want to contact a whistleblower attorney for healthcare fraud (Medicare, Medicaid, drug corporation) or other government contracting frauds. A good attorney can represent your case and help you learn the details of being a relator in the case.

Turning a corporation in for fraud does not need to be a daunting process with the help of an experienced whistleblower attorney. It can be financially beneficial to you as the relator, and is also of beneficial to your country. If you suspect fraud and are interested in filing a claim, don’t hesitate to contact a whistleblower attorney.

Posted in Federal False Claims Act, Other Kinds of Fraud, Qui Tam Information & Articles, Qui Tam LitigationNo Comments

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