Articles Posted in Whistleblowers and Qui Tam Lawsuits

hush-naidoo-382152-copy-300x200There are many different types of whistleblower claims that involve physicians and other medical providers defrauding the government. Some of the most common involve Stark Law violations. Stark Law was enacted over two decades ago and was meant to ensure that patients receive the best care possible, and that physicians always work in their best interests. Today, Stark Law has become complicated, and it seems the laws are changing all the time. If you work in the medical industry, below are five things you should know about Stark Law to ensure your employer operates honestly and within the confines of the law.

Stark Law Bans Self-Referrals

When it was enacted in 1989, the concept behind Stark Law was relatively simple. The law was intended to ban self-referrals made by doctors for certain services when a patient was covered through Medicare or another government program. The law was named after Representative Pete Stark, the Democrat from California that sponsored the bill.

amaury-salas-IhXrWDckZOQ-unsplash-copy-300x194When handled correctly, whistleblower cases can prevent fraud from occurring against the government, help make things right, and even compensate the whistleblower. However, too often these cases fall apart simply because mistakes are made during the process. This is largely because state and federal whistleblower laws are complicated. If you do not understand the laws, it is easy to not follow them correctly and this can lead to mistakes in your whistleblower claim. Below are the most common mistakes made in these cases, so you can avoid making the same ones in yours. 

Not Understanding if You Have Protection

The federal False Claims Act and California’s False Claims Act both provide protections for whistleblowers. However, to enjoy that protection, the action that you are reporting on must fall into certain categories. For example, upcoding, kickbacks, billing for services not rendered, and billing for unnecessary medical procedures are all considered actions that may lead to a whistleblower claim. If the actions are not stipulated within the law, you may not have a valid claim.

glenn-carstens-peters-RLw-UC03Gwc-unsplash-copy-300x200Individuals who believe they have observed someone else defrauding the government often wonder if they have a valid claim. The answer to that is a difficult one, and no one can really determine if a claim is valid without fully analyzing the facts of the case. However, if you believe that you have witnessed someone at your work or elsewhere defrauding the government, below are a few guidelines you can follow to determine if you have a case. Of course, a San Francisco qui tam lawyer can always provide the best advice on whether you have a valid claim. 

Is it Just a Hunch?

Qui tam cases are typically more successful when the whistleblower has actually witnessed specific instances of wrongdoing. This is because whistleblowers need specific knowledge that a violation has occurred. That makes it easier to collect evidence, identify the wrongful act, and then pursue the claim. Simply having a hunch or a feeling that someone is doing something wrong usually is not enough to go on to pursue a case. 

benjamin-child-90768-300x200If you believe you have witnessed someone defrauding the government, there is a chance you have a valid whistleblower claim. Coming forward about the wrongdoing is important. Not only will you serve the country by making things right, but you could also receive compensation if your claim is successful. However, these claims are some of the most challenging lawsuits to pursue. To give your claim the best chance of a positive outcome, it is important to speak to a San Francisco whistleblower lawyer. Choosing that lawyer is also essential, as you want to ensure that you work with someone who has the necessary experience and skills. Below are a few ways you can ensure you are working with the right attorney for your claim. 

The Lawyer’s Area of Expertise

Sometimes attorneys will post one page on their website stating that they have expertise with whistleblower claims. However, the rest of their site may be dedicated to other areas of law. When this is the case, there is a good chance the attorney does not have the necessary expertise with whistleblower lawsuits. Look for attorney websites that do not just have a whistleblower practice page, but also plenty of blog posts and other information related to whistleblower claims. This will ensure you are working with a whistleblower attorney in San Francisco who has the necessary experience with the False Claims Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, and other important pieces of legislation.

rawpixel-760036-unsplash-300x289Under the False Claims Act, an individual or agency can be held liable if they knowingly submit a false claim to the government, or cause the submission of a false claim. When individuals see these wrongdoings and false claims being made, they can pursue a whistleblower lawsuit to correct the wrong. Like any lawsuit though, they will need to provide certain proof before a lawsuit can proceed. The two elements of proof in these lawsuits are that the claim must have been made knowingly, and it must have been false or fraudulent. 

Knowingly Making a False Claim

Defendants cannot only be held liable for submitting a false claim, they can also be held liable if they intended to submit one, even if they never did. However, the false claim must be made by a person with full intention of defrauding the government. Simple negligence or innocent errors are not enough to hold a person liable for the fraudulent act. 

david-everett-strickler-196946-copy-300x195It was earlier this month when House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff issued a public statement saying that a subpoena was issued to Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire. The reason for the subpoena was that Maguire allegedly refused to release a whistleblower complaint. 

The complaint was filed under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA). That Act requires that complaints must be submitted to Congress. In his announcement, Schiff stated that he had concerns that the complaint was not forwarded to Congress in an attempt to protect the President and other officials with the administration. 

Since Schiff’s statement, a whirlwind has erupted across the country. The public wants to know not only if Maguire did something wrong, but what the ICWPA is. Below are a few of the questions that have been asked most recently, and the answers to them. 

anthony-ginsbrook-sTw2KYpoujk-unsplash-copy-300x200Qui tam lawsuits are brought by individuals, known as whistleblowers, against a company that defrauded the United States government. Whistleblowers do receive compensation for alerting the government of the fraud, but this is not the motivation behind most qui tam lawsuits. Whistleblowers feel a moral obligation to report the company and set things right. There are a number of ways they do this, and many different types of qui tam lawsuits. The most common are found below. 

Kickback Qui Tam Cases

Kickbacks are incentives, usually bribes or discounts, paid to an individual or entity to induce certain government healthcare programs, such as Medicare. For example, an entity, such as a cancer treatment center, may bribe a doctor to refer patients to them. Kickbacks of this or any other kind are illegal under the Anti-Kickback Statute. Many whistleblowers have seen companies and other entities receive kickbacks, making this a common type of qui tam case. 

rene-bohmer-430927-unsplash-copy-200x300There are many programs and legal statutes that allow whistleblowers to receive compensation for reporting wrongdoing, typically in their place of work. The False Claims Act is just one of these. However, whistleblowers do not typically blow the whistle to receive this compensation. In fact, many are not even aware that they are eligible for it at the time they report the wrongdoing. So, why do whistleblowers blow the whistle?

Moral Obligation

Of course, the main reason whistleblowers report wrongdoing is because they know they have a moral obligation to do so. It is incredibly difficult to go into a workplace every day, see unethical practices happening, and do nothing about it. Many whistleblowers simply cannot live with the guilt of knowing the government is being defrauded and continue to let it happen. After blowing the whistle, whistleblowers typically feel a sense of peace knowing they have done the right thing. 

aidan-bartos-313782-copy-300x200The Whistleblower Protection Act and the California False Claims Act both protect whistleblowers from retaliating employers after they report wrongdoing. Unfortunately, not all employers abide by this law. When they learn an employee has blown the whistle on them, they sometimes terminate that employee. The employee loses his or her income and soon falls upon financial hardship. When this happens, it is important that employees understand they can file a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against their employee to recover damages. So, what damages are available in a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit? A San Francisco whistleblower lawyer can fully evaluate your claim, but there are three types of damages most common in retaliation lawsuits. 

Back Pay Damages

Back pay provides compensation for any financial losses the employee sustained as a result of the retaliatory action. These damages often include wages, promotions, stock options, vacation pay, and other benefits. The False Claims Act states that employees who are retaliated against are entitled to twice the amount of back pay they have lost. 

rene-bohmer-430927-unsplash-copy-200x300Whether whistleblowers take action under the federal False Claims Act or California False Claims Act, they play a vital role in society. They uncover wrongdoings and hold individuals and companies accountable when they defraud the government. Still, over the years many myths surrounding whistleblowers have developed. Some of these are harmful, and our San Francisco qui tam lawyers want to explain the truth behind them. 

Whistleblowers Report Problems in the Workplace Externally

Whistleblowers who get the most attention have typically reported on something seen in their workplace externally, such as taking the matter to the press. However, not all whistleblowing takes place outside of a workplace or company. Sometimes employees report a problem internally, to their supervisor or manager. These individuals may not consider themselves whistleblowers, but they are, and their role is just as vital. Under California’s whistleblower protection laws, workers are protected from retaliation after blowing the whistle either internally or externally.