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Bracker & Marcus LLC Represents Whistleblowers
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compromising positions by employers, and that is still our mission today. With a proven
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FIRM NEWS AND RESULTS
Fradulent PPP Loan Certifications Can Create False Claims Act Liability The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020. This over $2 trillion economic relief package, passed amid the unprecedented economic conditions resulting from the global coronavirus pandemic, includes the Payroll Protection Program or “PPP” for small businesses. In [...]
Anna has represented False Claims Act relators since 2011 Bracker & Marcus LLC is pleased to announce its second addition to its ever-growing team of [...]
For the fifth year in a row, Julie has been chosen for the Women in Law Award from Lawyer Monthly, in recognition of her outstanding [...]
IRS Whistleblowers Were Paid More than $120 Million The IRS recently issued its annual report for Fiscal Year 2019 Whistleblower Awards, disclosing that made 181 [...]
FALSE CLAIMS ACT
The Role of Whistleblowers
The False Claims Act has been the federal government’s primary tool for combating fraud perpetrated against it for over 150 years. The False Claims Act allows private citizens to initiate qui tam lawsuits on the government’s behalf, thus increasing the exposure of those who commit fraud.
Our law firm exclusively represents “relators”, whistleblowers in False Claims Act or other qui tam cases. Relators are individuals with information about a person or entity that is defrauding the United States or state governments, usually by submitting false claims for payment, making false statements or records to support claims for payment, or by hiding an obligation to pay the Government. Most qui tam whistleblowers are current or former employees, with insider knowledge of their employer’s actions. But relators can also be competitors, subcontractors, clients, patients, or anyone else with information that the Government is being defrauded.
Fraud Against the Government
Violations of the False Claims Act usually occur when the fraudfeasor submits claims to the Government for products or services that are either expressly false or omitting relevant truths. An example is when a contractor bills for one product but provides a different product (or a product that is not built to the Government’s specifications). Another example is where a medical provider claims to have provided a service that it did not provide, or was not qualified to provide, or is a more expensive version of what was actually provided. In these instances, the bad guys are asking to be paid for something or an amount to which it is not entitled.
But False Claims Act violations can also occur for other reasons that are not apparent from the claims themselves. One example is when a contractor lies about its qualifications when obtaining a contract, i.e., it “fraudulently induces” the Government to award it a contract, such as by lying about being a veteran-owned or minority-owned business, or by colluding with competitors such as by “bid-rigging” to get a better deal. Another example is when an unlawful kickback is paid to get a referral, as frequently occurs in the medical context. Violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute or Stark Law (prohibiting referrals between providers with a relationship, such as family members or business partners) are frequently the subjects of False Claims Act settlements. In those situations, even if there are no misleading statements on the claim itself, the fraud that enabled the claim taints it.
Sometimes the taint is so far removed from the claim itself that it is not even the billing party that is violating the False Claims Act. “Off-label marketing,” for example, is when a pharmaceutical manufacturer convinces providers to prescribe a drug for a purpose that is not FDA-approved. It is the manufacturer that is guilty of causing the submission of a false claim—a claim to Medicare or Medicaid for reimbursement of a drug for a non-approved purpose—and not always the doctor who prescribed the drug or the pharmacy that filled the prescription and submitted the claim.
And other times, the fraud comes from avoiding paying money that is owed to the Government. A foreign manufacturer may misidentify the country of origin on customs forms to avoid paying tariffs, or mislabel the contents to pay a lower customs duty.
Rewards for Whistleblowers
Most of our clients come to us because reporting fraud is the right thing to do. They see a wrong that they want to make right. However, understanding the value that whistleblowers bring to stopping fraud, and the time and risk associated with bringing a lawsuit (including for their attorneys), the False Claims Act incentivizes insiders to blow the whistle by awarding a share of any recovery. If the Government intervenes in the case, a relator usually receives between 15% and 25% of the recovery. If the Government declines to intervene in the case, a relator usually receives between 25% and 30% of the recovery. The statute also provides for an award of attorney’s fees, allowing us to represent clients wholly on contingency, with the opportunity to recover our hourly fees from the defendant if we are successful.
Protecting Whistleblowers from Retaliation
Employers may attempt to silence whistleblowers by retaliating against them, including terminating their employment. The False Claims Act protects employees by awarding damages, including attorneys’ fees, who are retaliated against for reporting or efforts to stop fraud against the Government. We routinely represent whistleblowers in retaliation claims in conjunction with their qui tam cases.