The Federal False Claims Act dates back to the Civil War and is referred to as “Lincoln’s Law.” It allows citizens to stand in the shoes of the government and bring a claim for fraud on its behalf. While it lay dormant for decades, it was strengthened by both Presidents Reagan and Obama. The current law provides for civil liability to anyone who knowingly presents or causes to be presented a false claim, uses a false record, conspires to commit these acts, or conceals or avoids an obligation to pay the government. 31 U.S.C. § 3729. The Act carries significant penalties of between $11,181 and $22,363 per false claim, plus three times the amount of the damages sustained by the government.
Those who file “qui tam” lawsuits under this Act are whistleblowers, or “relators.” While the government retains any monetary settlement or judgment for itself, a successful qui tam lawsuit results in an award to the whistleblower of between 15 and 30 percent of the government’s recovery.
Government contractors who submit false or inflated claims waste taxpayers’ money and strain the limited resources of essential government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national defense. The qui tam lawyers of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake believe that members of the public who are willing to stand up and report corruption play a critical role in protecting the integrity of our government. With one of the nation’s most successful qui tam practices, JGL has been fighting for whistleblowers’ protection for more than two decades.
Attorneys Tim Maloney, Jay Holland, Brian Markovitz, and Veronica Nannis lead JGL’s team of preeminent qui tam litigators. Their efforts have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for the U.S. government and millions of dollars in settlements for whistleblowers who refuse to remain silent when they witness fraud. JGL’s qui tam lawyers have extensive experience in litigating claims under the federal False Claims Act and similar state laws that protect the rights of people who report misuse of government funds. JGL has a demonstrated track record of obtaining compensation for whistleblowers and protecting them from retaliation.
Among JGL’s many high-profile qui tam cases, the firm represented an employee of a government contractor in Afghanistan who had information about sham subcontracts that funneled money to fictitious companies run by the contractor’s wife. The case uncovered fraudulent subcontracts worth nearly $20 million and led to the indictment of the contractor, as well as a substantial settlement for the client.
The firm also has broad experience in litigating whistleblower claims in the health care realm. For instance, the firm’s work on behalf of a whistleblower who reported pharmaceutical company Allergan for off-label marketing of Botox resulted in the drug-maker paying $600 million in civil and criminal fines. The firm also litigated, in partnership with the federal government, a suit against medical device company NuVasive, who stood accused of having an unlawful kickback program and promoting medical devices for off-label use. That case resulted in the company paying a $13.5 million to the government to settle the allegations.
This year, the firm announced its participation in a case that ended in a settlement reached by the government with MedStar Health and two of its hospitals for $35 million to resolve allegations of medically unnecessary heart stints and kickbacks. Another of the firm’s cases led to a $9.7 million government recovery related to allegations that Chicago area nursing facilities submitted false claims to Medicare for physical, speech and occupational therapy services provided to nursing home patients, and a reward of almost $2 million dollars to our client.
It takes great courage to blow the whistle on corruption, especially when the wrongdoer is your employer. When contemplating coming forward with information about misuse of government funds, having a strong advocate on your side makes all the difference. Joseph, Greenwald & Laake’s distinguished qui tam litigators are committed to being those advocates.
To learn more, check out some of our False Claims Act related blogs: