Posts Tagged ‘attorney whistleblower’

Nearly $4 Billion Recovered in 2015 Whistleblower Cases

For the 4th year in a row, the Department of Justice recovered more than $3.5 billion in settlements and judgements in False Claims Act cases for fraud against the government.

“The False Claims Act has again proven to be the government’s most effective civil tool to ferret out fraud and return billions to taxpayer-funded programs,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The recoveries announced today help preserve the integrity of vital government programs that provide health care to the elderly and low income families, ensure our national security and defense, and enable countless Americans to purchase homes.”

These recoveries are often made possible by private individuals represented by whistleblower law firms like James HoyerTaxpayers Against Fraud, a non-profit which works to works to educate the public about whistleblower programs, noted that a higher percentage of successful cases were filed by whistleblowers in 2015.

  • Of the $3.58 billion collected under the federal False Claims Act in FY 2015, a record $ 2.91 billion was awarded in whistleblower-initiated cases.
  • Whistleblowers were awarded a record $597.6 million for their contribution in helping recover this $2.91 billion dollars.
  • Of the total amount awarded to whistleblowers, $334.6 million was awarded to relators in declined cases –  a record amount.

Patrick Burns, co-Executive Director of Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund, noted that the law was working exactly as it should.

“Government will never have all the resources it needs to find and pursue every act of fraud. That’s why the False Claims Act incentivizes whistleblowers to come forward with non-public information, and why it allows private lawyers, working for those whistleblowers, to pursue fraud cases on the government’s behalf,” said Burns.

Click here to read more from TAF.

Of the $3.5 billion recovered last year, $1.9 billion came from companies and individuals in the health care industry for allegedly providing unnecessary or inadequate care, paying kickbacks to health care providers to induce the use of certain goods and services, or overcharging for goods and services paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health care programs.  The $1.9 billion reflects federal losses only.  In many of these cases, the department was instrumental in recovering additional millions of dollars for consumers and state Medicaid programs.

The next largest recoveries were made in connection with government contracts.  The government depends on contractors to feed, clothe, and equip our troops for combat; for the military aircraft, ships, and weapons systems that keep our nation secure; as well as to provide everything that is needed to fund myriad programs at home.  Settlements and judgments in cases alleging false claims for payment under government contracts totaled $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2015.

The False Claims Act is the government’s primary civil remedy to redress false claims for government funds and property under government contracts, including national security and defense contracts, as well as under government programs as varied as Medicare, veterans’ benefits, federally insured loans and mortgages, highway funds, research grants, agricultural supports, school lunches, and disaster assistance.  In 1986, Congress strengthened the Act by amending it to increase incentives for whistleblowers to file lawsuits on behalf of the government.

Click here to read the entire DOJ news release.

 

 

$33.6 Million Whistleblower Award for James Hoyer Client

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Peggy Ryan

In a striking decision, Endo Pharmaceuticals former employee Peggy Ryan was granted a whistleblower award close to the maximum percentage that a whistleblower can receive in a False Claims Act case. United States District Court Judge Robert Kelly in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that Ryan is entitled to a 24-percent share of the federal government’s portion of a settlement reached in 2014. The whistleblower reward amounts to $33.6 million for Ryan, a client of the James Hoyer law firm.

For her efforts, the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund named Peggy Ryan Whistleblower of the Year in 2015.  Click here to read the announcement on TAF’s website.  James Hoyer was also named Whistleblower Lawyers of the Year.

Decision Marks Strong Stand for Whistleblowers

“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,” said James Hoyer law firm managing partner Chris Casper.

The Court called Ryan’s efforts “nothing short of extraordinary” in explaining his decision. “Without the assistance of Ryan, the probability of the Government recovering any funds for the FCA violations would have been slim at best.”

The government disputed that Ryan should be entitled to 24 percent, instead arguing she should receive only 19 percent of the federal recovery. Judge Kelly sharply disagreed and indicated the government’s attempt to minimize Ryan’s significant contribution was misguided. “In light of the nature and abundance of her contributions, it is clear that Ryan was indispensable to the investigation.”

Extraordinary Contribution

The case was first filed by Ryan, a pharmaceutical rep for Endo, in 2005, after she felt the company unduly pressured her to sell the Lidoderm patch off-label for unapproved uses. She showed remarkable strength and commitment over the past 10 years, helping the government make its case.

Ryan provided insider testimony, crucial documents and analysis, and even wore a wire for the FBI. “Throughout the nine-year period from her first qui tam complaint in 2005 to the settlement in 2014, Ryan continually provided access behind the corporate walls of Endo. Ryan’s insider status, conferred by her employment with Endo, enabled the government investigatory team to recover evidence which would have otherwise been unobtainable,” Judge Kelly explained.

In addition to “hours of incriminating evidence” recorded by Ryan and a bounty of invaluable documents, Judge Kelly also cited an 18-minute documentary produced by the James Hoyer law firm, which summarized the evidence in the Endo case, as a unique tool that helped to drive the case when it began to lag in 2010.

“An examination of the record exhibits that Ryan provided not only the spark for the investigation, but that she nurtured the flame at the darkest times when the possibility of a favorable outcome seemed most remote,” Judge Kelly wrote.

The Court’s decision on Ryan’s whistleblower award came exactly 10 years and 10 days after she first filed the case. “It has been a long and sometimes difficult road, but we are gratified that Peggy’s efforts to do the right thing are being recognized in such an extraordinary way,” said attorney Casper. “We are hopeful this decision will encourage other insiders with information regarding fraud against the government to come forward on behalf of American taxpayers. “It’s not easy to be a whistleblower,” he added, “but this decision shows their efforts are valued.”

Read more on the whistleblower award and the Court’s decision from ReutersCorporate Crime Reporter, The Legal Intelligencer, and USDC – Memorandum by Judge Robert F. Kelly, Sr.

 

Can Attorneys Still Be Whistleblowers?

Whistleblower Case

2000px-Northrop_Grumman.svgIn United States ex rel. Holmes v. Northrop Grumman Corp., No. 1:13-cv-00085-HSO-RHW (S.D. Miss. June 3, 2015), a district court tossed the whistleblower, who was an attorney, and his case because of a series of serious ethical misconduct including the blatant violation of court orders. Some are hailing the case as a “strong warning” and a “staunch reminder to attorneys that their ethical obligations are paramount,” suggesting that the order stands for the proposition that attorneys can rarely, if ever, be whistleblowers.
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