Giving Thanks to Those Who Didn’t Stay Silent

At the Brod Law Firm, we’re proud to be part of the fight against healthcare and government contracts fraud in San Francisco and across the state. We are also humbled to work with the people who witness fraud or other wrongdoing and decide to speak up against it. While we are committed to protecting these whistleblowers, we will never deny that their decision is a brave one that shows a commitment to community, country, and basic values. As we look forward to Thanksgiving, we wanted to take a moment to look at a few examples of whistleblowers who have helped fight fraud and other wrongs and, in doing so, have helped protect us all.

    • Peter Buxtun – While not a case of fraud per se, Buxton’s voice as a whistleblower helped bring an end to one of the most disturbing examples of health care wrongdoing in the twentieth century. Buxton filed formal ethical complaints and eventually took to the media to expose the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, an infamous “clinical study” in which the U.S. Public Health Service withheld promised care and known treatments to observe the course of syphilis in a group of African-American men.
  • John Michael Gravitt – In 1984, Gravitt used a then-obscure False Claims Act statute to charge General Electric with fraud for altering thousands of timecards to allegedly cheat the Pentagon out of $7 million. The amount of the eventual settlement was not disclosed but rumored to be around $4.7 million. Gravitt’s testimony helped lead Congress to amend the False Claims Act, providing greater protections to whistleblowers and expanding their power which has led to more than $1 billion in recoveries.
  • Sheila Bell-Messier – Bell-Messier worked for ROTECH, a medical device company, and discovered major non-compliance with Medicare billing standards. Although the government declined to intervene in the matter, Bell-Messier played a key role in obtaining a settlement of around $1.78 million from ROTECH on allegations related fraud charges.
  • John Kopchinski – Served as a whistleblower exposing violations of anti-kickback laws and illegal off-label marketing by Pfizer, for whom he previously worked as a sales representative. The case led to a criminal fine of $1.195 billion (the largest criminal fine in any US prosecution to date) and a $1 billion settlement in the related False Claims Act case.
  • Jerry H. Brown II.– Brown filed a False Claims Act complaint in San Francisco court alleging that Maersk Line Limited knowingly overcharged the Department of Defense for the transportation of cargo to U.S troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although the company did not admit any wrongdoing, in 2012 Maersk agreed to pay $31.9 million to settle the claims.
  • These are just a handful of the men and women who saw a wrong and spoke up, including those who helped the government recover wrongfully diverted funds from the already-strained budgets of programs like Medicare and the Department of Defense. We give thanks to them and to everyone who has chosen to fight fraud rather than watch it occur.

    If you have witnessed a company overcharging federal or state programs or otherwise committing financial fraud in the course of a government-funded contract, we can help you become part of this fight. Our San Francisco-based whistleblowers’ law firm will work to protect your interests, including obtaining a substantial reward for your efforts if they lead to a recovery, while together we pursue justice.

    See Related Blog Posts:
    The False Claims Act: From Shoddy Civil War Uniforms to Costly Defense Contracts in 2014
    The Experience of Whistleblowers