FCA NOW

Relator Strikes Twice Against Walgreens

Vanessa J. Szalapski

For those who pay close attention to FCA settlements, the January 22 press release from the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York of a $60 million settlement against Walgreens related to its Prescription Savings Club (“PSC”) program should not come as a complete surprise. In an earlier press release, almost two years ago to the day, the Southern District of New...

For FY2018, Justice Department Touts Nearly $3 Billion in False Claims Act Recoveries, Mostly From Qui Tams and Alleged Healthcare Frauds

David Green

The Justice Department announced in a recent press release that it obtained more than $2.8 billion in settlements and judgments from cases involving fraud and false claims against the government. The vast majority of this amount—$2.1 billion—came from lawsuits filed by whistleblowers, or “relators” suing on behalf of the government, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claim Act (“FCA”). Included in the qui...

Sixth Circuit: Timing of Physician Certification for In-Home Care Remains Material After Escobar

Ben Kappelman

A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit again revived an FCA suit against home-health services providers premised on the providers’ alleged improper procurement of physician medical necessity certifications supporting Medicare claims. In United States v. Brookdale Senior Living Communities, Inc., — F.3d —-, 2018 WL 2770598 (6th Cir. June 11, 2018), a nurse alleged she was hired by several...

In One Decision, The Eleventh Circuit Creates Two Circuit Splits

Kirk Schuler

Rejecting the views of the Fourth and Tenth Circuits, the Eleventh Circuit held the FCA’s three year statute of limitations period in § 3731(b)(2) applies to a relator’s claim even when the United States declines to intervene, and in so doing held it is the knowledge of a government official, not the relator, that triggers the three year limitations period, rejecting the contrary view of...

Third Circuit: False Claims Act Liability Premised on an Anti-Kickback Statute Violation Requires Proof that at Least One Federal Claim Resulted from an Improper Referral or Recommendation

Ben Kappelman

Federal scrutiny of charities that assist patients with accessing prescription drugs has increased with rising prescription drug prices.  Some prescription drug charities receive funding from medical providers or drug manufacturers, which can raise questions about whether the charities’ funders are using the charities to generate improper recommendations or referrals. In December 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General rescinded a...

Two Recent Justice Department Memoranda May Have Significant Consequences for Pending and Future False Claims Act Enforcement

Alex Hontos

In recent weeks, the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued two memoranda that might change the calculus of False Claims Act (“FCA”) cases.  The memoranda at a minimum provide organizations with new—or at least invigorated—defenses to qui tam actions and civil enforcement matters. First, on January 10, Michael Granston, Director of DOJ’s Civil Frauds section, issued a memorandum encouraging DOJ trial attorneys to consider dismissing...

Applying Escobar’s Materiality Standard, Florida Federal Court Reverses $350 Million False Claims Act Verdict against a Nursing Home Operator

Alissa Smith

If the government does not take action and continues to pay for Medicare/Medicaid claims after it learns of non-compliance related to the claims, is the non-compliance material to the government’s decision to pay?  This is a question being answered in the negative by courts across the country, who have concluded that the government (or a qui tam relator) is not able to proceed under a...

HIPAA As a Basis for FCA Liability? One Court Says Yes

Nathan Ebnet

Until very recently, no case existed in which FCA liability arose from a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”). But in United States v. America at Home Healthcare and Nursing Services, Ltd., Judge John Robert Blakely of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, allowed an FCA claim premised on a HIPAA violation to survive...

Early Resolution of FCA Civil Damages Under the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause? A Pending Case in Washington May Provide the Answer

Benjamin Greenberg

The False Claims Act authorizes civil penalties between $10,781 to $21,563 per false claim, as well as three times the amount of damages which the government sustains (i.e. treble damages). The Eighth Amendment provides that “[e]xcessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” The Supreme Court of the United States has recognized that a statutory penalty constitutes...

Government Contractor Awarded Attorney Fees for Defending Against “Unreasonable” FCA Claim

Alan Iverson

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently concluded that a contractor should obtain an award of attorney fees for having to defend against an “unreasonable” False Claims Act (“FCA”) suit.  In United States ex. rel. Wall v. Circle C. Constr. LLC, the Government sued a contractor that built warehouses for the U.S. Army. During construction, it was alleged that the contractor’s subcontractor paid two electricians...