Archive for August, 2015

Annual James Hoyer Baseball Outing

The annual James Hoyer law firm baseball outing was great fun once again.  Every year, we gather with our family and friends at Tropicana Field to enjoy America’s great pastime, good food and good company. It’s always a special time to remember why we all work so hard.  Enjoying the good times with our loved ones makes it all worth it.

And capping off a great afternoon, the Tampa Bay Rays pulled out a win over the Kansas City Royals, 3-to-2.

The James Hoyer whistleblower law firm take in a Tampa Bay Rays game.

Great view from the Papa Johns Bullpen

 

Ninth Circuit Removes Bar To Whistleblower Lawsuits

DisclosureLast month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an important ruling for whistleblower lawsuits, reversing 23-years of bad law pertaining to what a relator must prove to overcome the Public Disclosure Bar.

The Public Disclosure Bar seeks to prevent lawsuits by “opportunistic plaintiffs who have no significant information to contribute of their own.” Graham County Soil & Water Conservation Dist. v. U.S. ex rel. Wilson, 559 U.S. 280, 294 (2010).  Generally speaking, there are two requirements to qualify as an “original source” and overcome the bar when the alleged fraud has already been aired publicly:

  1. the relator must have direct and independent knowledge of the information on which the allegations are based; and
  2. the relator must have voluntarily provided that information to the government before filing the lawsuit.

31 U.S.C. § 3730(e)(4)(B). In the 1992 case captioned Wang v. FMC Corp., the Ninth Circuit added a third requirement that the relator have “had a hand in the public disclosure.”

The Court inferred that the third requirement was necessary from the False Claims Act’s legislative history, which suggested that the “information” referenced in the phrase “original source of the information,” 31 U.S.C. § 3730(e)(4)(A), meant the information underlying the publicly disclosed allegations that triggered the public disclosure bar, rather than the information which underlay the plaintiff’s complaint.

The third prong proved to be a high barrier for relators.  Fortunately, the recent decision captioned U.S. ex rel. Hartpence v. Kinetic Concepts removed the obstacle with the Ninth Circuit acknowledging that the law “has two, and only two, requirements.”  The Ninth Circuit also found support for its reversal in the Supreme Court’s Rockwell International Corp. v. United States, which the Court found to be in “serious tension with the hand-in-the-public disclosure requirement this court adopted in Wang.

The Ninth Circuit therefore concluded that “Wang impermissibly drew on language from 31 U.S.C. § 3730(e)(4)(A) to read a nonexistent, extratextual third requirement into § 3730(e)(4)(B). We overrule it as wrongly decided.”

This ruling should ease the path for whistleblower lawsuits brought in the Ninth Circuit.  You can read both rulings by clicking on the links below:

 

Quest Diagnostics Pays $1.8 Million in Whistleblower Case

The United States Department of Justice announced today that Quest Diagnostics Inc. and Quest Diagnostics Clinical Laboratories Inc. (collectively “Quest Diagnostics”) have paid the United States $1.79 million to settle claims that it violated the False Claims Act.

This settlement resolves allegations that Quest Diagnostics submitted duplicative claims to Medicare for certain venipuncture services and diagnostic tests and certain panel tests and select components of those panels. The United States alleged that these payments violated the False Claims Act.

“We are committed to fighting fraud and abuse to help preserve scarce Medicare funds for those who need it the most, the sick and the elderly.” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner.

The settlement announced today resolves a lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of California under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act. These provisions allow private citizens to bring civil actions on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery. The whistleblower in this case will receive $358,000 of the recovery proceeds.

This case was investigated by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California. Assistant United States Attorney Catherine Swann handled the matter for the United States. The claims settled by this agreement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

 

Whistleblower Case Exposes Harm to Babies and Moms

13 WTHR Indianapolis

The case of a baby who suffered permanent neurological damage during birth was exposed in a whistleblower case filed by James Hoyer client Dr. Judith Robinson.  WTHR, the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis, profiled the story of little Denise and her mom, Nancy Koger. The Koger’s case was one of three permanently injured babies and 17 “near misses” in a six month period documented by Dr. Robinson when she worked at IU Health and Methodist Hospital.  Dr. Robinson blew the whistle on the health network for allowing midwives to care for low-income, high risk, pregnancy patients, in violation of state Medicaid rules by filing a whistleblower case.

Investigative Reporter Sandra Chapman took viewers into the delivery room to witness alarming moments during baby Denise’s birth and revealed that her mom required an emergency C-section, after a mid-wife missed key warning signs two days earlier and sent her home. As a result, Denise suffered brain damage.  The toddler is now in a wheelchair, unable to talk and must be fed through a tube.  Nancy Koger is in the process of filing suit against IU Health and Methodist Hospital.

WTHR Report- PART 2: Mom Claims Botched Delivery & Missing Medical Records13 WTHR Indianapolis

In this second report, WTHR Investigative Reporter Sandra Chapman looks at the case of Dorothy Riggle and her daughter Crystal, who is now 10-years old. Crystal suffered brain damage and permanent injury to her arm and eye after a traumatic birth, at Methodist Hospital. Her mom says a midwife refused to call a doctor when she came to the emergency in labor, despite telling her that she had a high risk pregnancy. Adding insult to injury, the hospital told them it lost the medical records of Crystal’s birth, so their efforts to take legal action have been compromised.