A federal judge in Philadelphia has taken the Department of Justice to task for minimizing a whistleblower’s contribution in a False Claims Act case. That case resulted in a $192 million settlement with Endo Pharmaceuticals. It actually ended over a decade’s worth of fraud that ripped off Medicare and Medicaid for more than $700 million dollars. Patrick Burns, who is with Taxpayers Against Fraud, had this to say:
The whistleblower in this case wore a wire that produced over 200 hours of audio tape for the government, but Department of Justice offered only a sliver over the statutory minimum award.
Judge Robert Kelly Sr. ruled that Peggy Ryan, the whistleblower, “provided not only the spark for the investigation, but … nurtured the flame at the darkest times when the possibility of a favorable outcome seemed most remote.” Ms. Ryan’s lawyers contended that the whistleblower deserved a 24 percent share of the recovery. The government argued it should be only 19 percent. Judge Kelly sided with Ms. Ryan and awarded her a 24 percent share for her nearly 10-year ordeal. The award amounts to $33.6 million for Ms. Ryan. She was represented by the James Hoyer law firm in Tampa, Fla.
Judge Kelly ruled that “the Government’s interpretation is contrary to the explicit language of the statute,” adding in his order:
The Court reads the statute to hold that the only measuring stick is the contribution of the relator. If Congress had intended limitations, like in the case of large awards, it would have explicitly included them within the statutory framework of the FCA. Congress’ silence on this issue compels rejection of the Government’s argument that a relator should get a smaller percentage in large case. Second, the Government has failed to include any legal precedent affirming this argument, and thorough research by this Court has failed to unearth any such support.
James Hoyer Law Firm Managing Partner Chris Casper made this astute observation:
Judge Kelly’s decision is not only a testament to Peggy’s commitment in this decade long case, but also reaffirms the value of all whistleblowers and the False Claims Act as the government’s most powerful tool in fighting fraud.
Judge Kelly called Ms. Ryan’s efforts “nothing short of extraordinary” in explaining his decision to give her close to the maximum award of 25 percent for a False Claims Act relator. He wrote that “Without the assistance of Ryan, the probability of the Government recovering any funds for the FCA violations would have been slim at best. “
Endo Pharmaceuticals sold more than $750 million worth of Lidoderm in 2010 and, according to Endo Pharmaceutical’s own employees, more than 90 percent of these sales were off-label. Based on the court’s findings and comments, had Ms. Ryan not done her duty as a whistleblower, I am fairly certain that Endo’s wrongful conduct would most likely never have been discovered.
Source: Corporate Crime Reporter
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