The number of whistleblower lawsuits filed in the U.S. in 2013 soared to a record 752 cases. Recoveries totaled $2.9 billion that year with whistleblowers receiving $345 million of that amount, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
Whistleblower lawsuits have unique complexities and are often difficult to prosecute. That is why hiring the right law firm with experience in whistleblower cases is so vitally important.
Ross Feller Casey has a dedicated Whistleblower Protection Department, led by Brian J. McCormick, Jr.
McCormick has assisted the U.S. government in the successful prosecution of several landmark actions, including representing individuals in four of the largest whistleblower settlements in U.S. history:
- Pfizer, Inc. agreed to plead guilty to criminal conduct and to pay $2.3 billion in criminal and civil fines, penalties and damages to settle allegations that it defrauded Medicare, Medicaid and other government-funded healthcare programs in connection with its market practices for four of its drugs, including Geodon and Zyvox.
- Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries paid more than $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from allegations relating to the prescription drugs Risperdal and Invega, including promotion for uses not approved by the FDA, and payment of kickbacks to physicians and to the nation's largest long-term care pharmacy provider. The global resolution was one of the largest healthcare fraud settlements in U.S. history, including criminal fines and forfeiture totaling $485 million and civil settlements with the federal government and states totaling $1.72 billion.
- Eli Lilly agreed to plead guilty and pay $1.415 billion for promoting its drug Zyprexa for uses not approved by the FDA. It included a criminal fine of $515 million, which at that time was the largest ever in a healthcare case, and the largest criminal fine for an individual corporation ever imposed in a United States criminal prosecution of any kind. The company also paid $800 million in a civil settlement with the federal government and the states.
- AstraZeneca agreed to pay $520 million in civil fines, penalties and damages to settle allegations that the company defrauded Medicare, Medicaid and other government-funded healthcare programs in connection with its marketing and promotional practices for the blockbuster atypical antipsychotic Seroquel.
Most recently, Ross Feller Casey helped federal lawyers secure a $6.07 million settlement with medical device companies EBI, LLC, of New Jersey, and Biomet, Inc., of Indiana, that resolved allegations that they used illegal kickbacks to induce doctors to purchase their bone growth stimulators.
Settled in late October 2014, the case was prompted by a former company employee who was represented by McCormick.
Whistleblower actions are also known as qui tam lawsuits.
Qui tam is shorthand for a longer Latin phrase "qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hoc parte sequitur." Translated, it means "He who sues for the king as well as for himself."
It's a fitting translation.
Qui tam lawsuits are permitted under the federal False Claims Act, which allows a private individual who knows about fraud committed against the federal government to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the government. Many states now also have similar laws.
In successful qui tam cases, everyone wins—except those who committed the fraud. The government recoups what it lost, and the whistleblower may receive a portion of what is recovered, typically from 15 to 30 percent.
Whistleblower lawsuits take many forms and touch many industries. Notable recent cases involved:
- Healthcare fraud involving Medicaid and Medicare, as well as the Veterans Administration.
- Off-label marketing of prescription drugs for unapproved medical conditions.
- Procurement fraud by government contractors who overbilled or misrepresented goods and services, or who used illegal means such as kickbacks or bribes to win contracts.
- Environmental fraud by contractors who fail to comply with environmental statutes and regulations.
If you or someone you know has information about fraud involving federal funds or against the U.S., or a state or local, government, past or present, the time to contact whistleblower lawyers in Philadelphia is now.
Your ability to file and/or recover from a successful whistleblower action could be limited under what is known as the "first to file" rule, which is designed to encourage the prompt reporting of fraud. This rule may require that only the first person—no matter whether they are the most qualified or most knowledgeable about the fraud—is entitled to the government award in a given case. This is where qui tam lawsuits are different than all other personal injury cases.
As with all of its cases, Ross Feller Casey handles whistleblower actions on a contingency basis, meaning there will never be a cost to you unless there is a financial recovery in your case.
The attorneys at Ross Feller Casey understand the personal and professional risks you are taking to blow the whistle and expose fraud against the government. We will devote all of our experience and skills to protecting your rights through the entire whistleblower legal process.