Lawyers in our firm continue to investigate qui tam suits brought under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq. Qui tam suits, commonly called “whistleblower suits,” are suits brought by private citizens on behalf of the United States to recover monies owed to the government. The law provides citizen-Plaintiffs, called “relators,” with powerful incentives – sometimes up to 30% of the amount recovered – to report instances of fraud against the federal government. It should be noted that the relator must have first-hand knowledge of the alleged fraudulent activity.
Common qui tam cases involve instances of Medicare and Medicaid fraud, pharmaceutical fraud, government contract fraud, and other public benefit fraud. For example, studies have revealed that up to 10% of Medicare charges are fraudulent. Typical fraudulent schemes involve billing Medicare more than once for the same service, charging for services not performed, billing for expensive equipment and only providing cheaper equipment, or routinely waiving co-payments.
The False Claims Act protects whistleblowers who are “demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment” for acts done in furtherance of filing a qui tam claim. Penalties for such conduct include reinstatement with seniority, double back pay with interest, other special damages incurred due to discriminatory treatment, and attorney’s fees and costs. This is true even if the case is never filed, as long as the employee’s claims could legitimately support a False Claims Act case.
A good example of a successful qui tam suit was the Milberg firm’s handling last year of a False Claims Act case against medical supply giant Medline. Sean Mason, a Medline sales executive, knew that federal regulations prohibit medical supply companies from offering perks or incentives to medical service providers like hospitals and healthcare facilities that make claims to Medicare or Medicaid. But Mason also had firsthand knowledge that Medline was routinely violating this law, involving millions of dollars of illegal kickbacks. Mason blew the whistle on his employer, resulting in an $85 million dollar settlement with $23.4 million paid to Mason and $6 million paid to his lawyers.
Our lawyers predict that settlements like these will create a powerful incentive for more whistleblowers to come forward in 2012. For more information on qui tam suits, please contact Archie Grubb or Andrew Brashier at 800-898-2034 or Archie.Grubb@BeasleyAllen.com or Andrew.Brashier@BeasleyAllen.com.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.