Articles Tagged with northern california qui tam lawyer

tim-mossholder-588403-unsplash-copy-300x200The partial shutdown of the federal government has been going on for almost five weeks as of the date of this article. Many government programs have been negatively impacted. This is especially pertinent regarding whistleblower (also known as qui tam) actions since the federal government is potentially involved in so many of the steps of prosecuting a successful lawsuit.  Furthermore, the lack of government funding that has resulted from the shutdown may also increase the potential for more fraudulent acts that are the impetus for qui tam actions in the first place.

Federal Courts

The status of the federal court system is important when considering federal qui tam actions. This is because the lawsuits are based on a federal law, the False Claims Act, wherein a whistleblower (known under the law as a relator) brings a lawsuit on behalf of the federal government in cases in which businesses have brought false claims to the government for payment. As such, these lawsuits are almost universally brought in the appropriate federal District Court. In the San Francisco area, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California is the most frequent venue for filing qui tam actions. Luckily, for relators, at least, on January 11, Chief Judge Hamilton issued an order providing for the continuation of operations under the Anti-Deficiency Act (see the Order here). Simply put, this means the Court will continue to accept filings, hear, and decide cases without interruption and handle new and existing cases as necessary. This means that, for the Court, at least, the business of justice will continue unimpeded.

ken-treloar-385255-copy-300x200Medicare and Medicaid are taxpayer-funded healthcare programs instituted for the purpose of ensuring that all Americans have access to basic health services. Fraud on the part of health care providers is a major threat to these programs and to the health of millions of Americans who benefit from their services. Every year, physicians and other members of the healthcare industry enrich themselves by diverting funds from Medicare and Medicaid to themselves and by fraudulently billing these publicly funded programs. Whistleblowers who have helped bring legal action against purveyors of healthcare fraud have helped the nation recover billions of dollars for healthcare.  If you are aware of healthcare fraud at your workplace, contact an attorney to discuss filing a qui tam lawsuit.

How Big a Problem is Healthcare Fraud?

The Department of Justice collects data on healthcare fraud, and the figures are alarming. For 2014, the most recent year for which the DOJ has published statistics, it is clear that healthcare fraud was widespread, but that the government, with the help of whistleblowers, was taking effective measures to stem it.

christina-sicoli-19892-copy-300x212Whistleblower George Gage has made it clear he is not happy with the current judge for his qui tam case, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks. Gage claims that throughout his False Claims Act (FCA) case against Rolls-Royce North America Inc., Judge Sparks has handed down orders that attempt to divest him of jurisdiction in order to try and have Gage’s case thrown out before Rolls-Royce submitted an answer. He has tried two different ways to obtain a different judge on his case and each time has failed. That is because it takes a great deal of evidence of bias or impartiality to get a judge taken off a case.

If you are currently part of a qui tam case and believe the judge is not able to be partial, contact the experienced California qui tam attorneys of Brod Law Firm as soon as possible.

Gage’s Attempts for a New Judge

jimi-filipovski-189724-copy-300x176Individuals and businesses named in qui tam lawsuits alleging fraud against the government based on the False Claims Act (FCA) have always been at risk for significant financial penalties. If the federal government decides to join the qui tam action against the defendants, this is a sign of a great deal of evidence in the government’s favor. A court ruling against some or all of the defendants or a settlement between them and the government is bound to follow. However, since mid-2016, the financial risk for these defendants has been even higher as the minimum and maximum civil penalties increased. Along with continued enforcement, this could mean the U.S. receives an even greater amount from FCA cases in the 2017 fiscal year.

FCA Claims are Taken Seriously

Under the Obama Administration, qui tam and FCA claims were taken seriously. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recovered more than $4.7 billion from FCA cases in the 2016 fiscal year. As we transition into the Trump Administration and Attorney General Sessions gets to work, it appears as if heavy FCA enforcement will continue. Democrats and Republicans both agree with finding and prosecuting fraud against the government, and Sessions has agreed he will make recovering fraudulently obtained monies a high priority.

benjamin-child-90768-300x200Vinod Khurana alleged he should receive part of a $500 million settlement agreement between Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), New York City, and the Southern District U.S. Attorney’s Office since he was a whistleblower who informed the government of SAIC’s fraudulent billing and record-keeping system. However, the court denied this claim stating that Khurana was not a valid qui tam relator in relation to the settlement. Therefore, he had no right to a portion of the agreement as if it were the government’s alternate remedy.

Khurana’s History with SAIC

Khurana was a software engineer with Spherion, a quality assurance company that was hired to review SAIC’s records and billing on the CityTime system, which was used to track municipal workers’ hours. By working with CityTime, Khurana discovered that SAIC managers had a fraudulent billing and record-keeping system that made them money. He claims his bringing forward information about this fraud between 2004 and 2007 was what led to his dismissal in 2007.

According to ABC News, the rate of Medicare fraud is on the rise. One of the areas in which Medicare fraud is growing is home health care fraud. It’s important to be aware of this type of fraud, as it makes up a significant portion of health care fraud and often takes advantage of some of the most vulnerable members of society.

Home health care fraud can include billing for medically unnecessary services or care that was not actually provided. Home health care companies may fraudulently obtain patients’ personal medical information –including their Medicare numbers -and falsify medical documents and records in order to send fraudulent bills to Medicare for costly home health care services.

Health care fraud whistleblowers play a critical role in ending the perpetration of Medicare fraud, including home health care fraud. To protect those individuals who are most at risk, it’s important for witnesses to report suspicions of health care fraud.