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The Whistleblower Blog

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Presented by Hodgson Russ, the Whistleblower Blog is written by a team of lawyers experienced in successfully guiding both whistleblowers and companies accused by whistleblowers of wrongdoing through the False Claims Act process.

Showing 27 posts in Whistleblower Settlements.

Whistleblowers to Recover $2 Million in 'Worthless Services' FCA Case Against Nursing Home

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On October 10, 2014, the Justice Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) jointly announced that Extendicare Health Services Inc. (Extendicare) and its subsidiary Progressive Step Corporation (ProStep) agreed to pay $38 million to the United States and eight states for False Claims Act liability. Approximately $2 million of the total settlement amount will be awarded to the whistleblowers who revealed the fraudulent conduct at issue by bringing suit under the False Claims Act.

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Topics: Medicare & Medicaid Fraud, Whistleblower Settlements

SEC Encourages Would-Be Whistleblowers to Comply With Internal Reporting Programs First

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The Securities and Exchange Commission whistleblower program, which provides awards to certain whistleblowers who report securities laws violations to the SEC, encourages would-be whistleblowers to comply with internal reporting programs first. 

The SEC’s whistleblower rules do this in at least two ways. First, the SEC weighs the whistleblower’s participation in the firm’s internal compliance program as a factor that may increase the whistleblower’s eventual award. And the SEC considers interference with internal compliance programs to be a factor that may decrease any award. Second, the SEC’s whistleblower rules give the would-be whistleblower the benefit of the earlier date on which the internal compliance report was made, so long as the whistleblower makes his or her SEC filing within 120 days. In that situation, the SEC form requests a copy of the internal reporting. In these ways, the SEC encourages compliance with companies’ internal compliance programs, without sacrificing whistleblower reporting to the SEC.

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John Sinatra is a partner in the Business Litigation
Practice at Hodgson Russ LLP. You can reach him at jsinatra@hodgsonruss.com.

Topics: Whistleblower Settlements

Relators Win Right to Share of Proceeds Under False Claims Act

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In a recent False Claims Act case from the Eighth Circuit, Rille v. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 6597 (8th Cir. April 10, 2014), the relators won an important victory against the government relating to their right to obtain a portion of the settlement proceeds of a claim under the act. Specifically, according to the act, if the government “intervenes” in a case brought by relators, relators are entitled to a portion “of the proceeds of the action or settlement of the claim.” 31 U.S.C. 3730(d)(1). But in Rille, the relators had to fight not only defendants, but also the government to get the recovery they were entitled to under the act. The Eighth Circuit – in no uncertain terms – sided with the relators.

Topics: Whistleblower Settlements

IRS Paid $53 Million to 122 Whistleblowers in 2013

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According to the IRS Oversight Board’s recent report to Congress, the IRS paid $53 million last year to 122 whistleblowers. This is an average of nearly $435,000 per whistleblower. The whistleblower awards last year average 14.6 percent of the amounts collected by the IRS. As noted in the report, the law requires the IRS to pay awards if the information provided “substantially contributes to the collection of tax, penalties, interest, and other amounts when the amounts in dispute are more than $2,000,000.” The award ranges are based on “percentages of the collected proceeds.” The law is designed to encourage people “with knowledge of significant tax noncompliance to provide that information to the IRS.” According to the report, the IRS “continues to receive submissions from whistleblowers, many of whom claim to have inside knowledge of the transactions they are reporting. They often provide extensive documentation to support their claims.”

John Sinatra is a partner in the Business Litigation Practice at Hodgson Russ LLP. You can reach him at jsinatra@hodgsonruss.com

Topics: Tax Fraud, Whistleblower Settlements

Another Banner Year for Recoveries Under the False Claims Act

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According to a press release from the Department of Justice, in fiscal year 2013, the government recovered $3.8 billion in settlements and judgments involving the False Claims Act. This is the second-largest annual recovery in history and brings total recoveries under the False Claims Act since January 2009 (when the act was significantly amended) to $17 billion. Additionally, the number of qui tam (or whistleblower) cases increased to 752 in 2013, which was 100 more than in fiscal year 2012. Recoveries in qui tam cases this year totaled $2.9 billion, with whistleblowers recovering $345 million.

Topics: Whistleblower Settlements

Hodgson Russ Helps Plaintiffs in Largest-Ever False Claims Act Settlement in Risperdal Lawsuits Against Johnson & Johnson

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The Justice Department announced last week that Johnson & Johnson will pay $1.273 billion to the federal government and most states to settle a civil False Claims Act investigation into its off-label marketing of its antipsychotic drug Risperdal. J&J will settle a criminal investigation into the matter for an additional $800 million.

Hodgson Russ is proud to represent two of the plaintiffs who blew the whistle on J&J. The team, led by Daniel C. Oliverio, included Joseph V. Sedita and Robert J. Fluskey, Jr.

Topics: Pharmaceutical Fraud, Whistleblower Settlements

Government Intervention Rights Broadly Interpreted

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A False Claims Act case can be brought by a whistleblower (relator) to recover funds on behalf of the federal government. The government then has the option to “intervene” and proceed with the action. If the government does intervene, it has the primary role in prosecuting the action, although the relator remains entitled to a percentage of any recovery. Even if the government declines to intervene initially, it can later intervene upon a showing of “good cause.”

Topics: Other Government Fraud, Whistleblower Settlements

Justice Department Announces Record Single-Year False Claims Act Recovery

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The Justice Department yesterday reported $4.9 billion in False Claims Act recoveries for fiscal year 2012, which is the largest single-year recovery in history.

The recoveries spanned several sectors of the economy. In the health care arena, the Justice Department reports that, “[e]nforcement actions involving the pharmaceutical and medical device industry were the source of some of the largest recoveries this year.” The department recovered nearly $2 billion in cases alleging false claims for drugs and medical devices under federally insured health programs and, in addition, returned $745 million to state Medicaid programs.” The recoveries from major pharmaceutical companies addressed several drugs allegedly marketed for off-label use. They also addressed cases involving the alleged payment of kickbacks to physicians to prescribe certain drugs. Some of the cases addressed alleged false and misleading statements concerning drug safety and the alleged underpayment of rebates owed under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, and they include cases alleging inaccurate, unsupported, or misleading statements about drug safety to increase sales.

U.S. Pays $104 Million Reward to Tax Whistleblower

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According to numerous media reports citing his attorneys, former UBS Banker Bradley Birkenfeld has received a $104 million tax whistleblower reward for his role in exposing alleged secret Swiss banking schemes designed to enable U.S. taxpayers to evade taxes. The whistleblower’s revelations led to a $780 million settlement from UBS as well as tens of thousands of taxpayer coming forward in exchange for amnesty. The IRS’s tax whistleblower program provides a bounty or reward of up to 30 percent of the government’s recovery. Experts on both sides of these cases believe that the size of the reward will ensure that future tax whistleblowers are encouraged and incentivized to come forward with details of other tax schemes.

Topics: Tax Fraud, Whistleblower Settlements

Sharing Agreements, Consolidation, and Relators’ Share

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More and more, we are seeing multiple and separate qui tam cases filed across various districts that, in part, contain overlapping claims, allege common sets of facts, or supplement each other in a way that, if combined, results in much stronger complaint. The problem is simple: absent consolidation and a sharing agreement, the government has a mess on its hands when trying to determine who is the “first” relator for purposes of the relators’ share.

Topics: Whistleblower Settlements

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Hodgson Russ is one of only a few major law firms that represents both whistleblowers and companies accused by whistleblowers of wrongdoing. This unusual perspective means we are exceptionally well positioned to advise whistleblowers about potential claims.

We are not a "whistleblower mill" that pays little attention to the needs of its clients or the factual nuances of complex cases. Rather, we are a team of highly experienced lawyers that selects only the best cases, affording us the time and focus to become fully immersed in the factual and legal details necessary to bring cases to successful resolution.