The Drinker Biddle Qui Tam team counsels and defends clients against claims filed under the False Claims Act. The team is comprised of veteran lawyers skilled at the negotiation table and in the courtroom who have handled qui tam cases together for years in jurisdictions as diverse as Washington, D.C., Evansville, Ind., and Seattle, Wash. With offices across the country, the team is positioned to handle cases wherever they may be venued.
Who is at risk?
Anyone who contracts directly or indirectly with the United States government or state governments, and is paid for services, is at risk and has potential exposure for:
Mandatory penalties of $5,500-$11,000 per false claim; and
Certain industries have become particular targets for these whistleblower suits, including the health care, biotech, higher education and pharmaceutical sectors. Drinker Biddle has nationally recognized practices in these areas and brings strong substantive knowledge of these industries to the defense of qui tam suits.
Litigation Defense & Counseling
Drinker Biddle lawyers regularly defend clients in high-stakes whistleblower litigation at the trial and appellate levels. Together with the client, the Qui Tam team develops a comprehensive litigation strategy that will serve the client’s business needs and objectives, and then executes that strategy throughout the course of the investigation, discovery, pre-trial motions, negotiation and trial.
The Qui Tam team’s litigation and counseling experience includes:
Defending a financial company accused of defrauding the government of billions of dollars while overseeing US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) sale of mortgage loans to the private sector. The case was tried, after which we obtained a favorable settlement in which our client recovered more money than the whistleblower; and
Defending a large international construction company accused of defrauding the government on a project involving construction of a water and sewage system in Cairo, Egypt.
Drinker Biddle’s Qui Tam team has extensive experience defending health care providers in fraud and abuse investigations under the Stark Act, anti-kickback statutes, False Claims Act and similar laws, several of which involved grand jury proceedings and qui tam actions. Our litigators and health care practitioners work hand-in-hand with client executives to manage litigation, oversee compliance programs and internal audit processes, and provide counsel regarding transactions.
Representative engagements include:
Collaborating with Medicare carriers and intermediaries, U.S. Attorneys General, Consumer Protection Units and National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units of State Attorneys General and the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) to defend clients and negotiate settlements;
Litigating one of the first federal court proceedings involving a physician civil monetary penalty case;
Handling charitable trust, charity care, medical staff and managed care, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement actions, and leading the defense of qui tam suits and related investigations.; and
Litigating multiple State Attorneys General actions arising from the sale and distribution of prescription drugs, involving allegations of Medicaid Fraud Acts, State Unfair Practices Acts, RICO violations, consumer fraud, breach of warranty and negligence.
Drinker Biddle’s Qui Tam team has experience counseling and defending institutions of higher education in a range of qui tam actions, including:
Representing several schools in qui tam actions relating to Title IV funds;
Representing a university alleged to have violated Department of Education rules by paying bonuses to its recruiters; and
Representing an academic medical center in a qui tam action under Medicare Fraud and Abuse laws relating to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) organ transplant program.
Labor & Employment
Drinker Biddle’s Qui Tam team has successfully defended several qui tam and whistleblower claims brought under the Federal False Claims and Sarbanes-Oxley Acts.
We represent one of the largest telecommunications companies in an alleged false certification claiming no abandoned property with regard to unused prepaid calling card balances.
Drinker Biddle’s Qui Tam team has defended a solvent recycler in a criminal investigation and parallel civil whistleblower suit arising out of alleged improper discharges.
Securities & Corporate Governance
Our lawyers assist companies in corporate investigations related to whisteblower claims, including:
Representing the audit committee of a NYSE-listed company, investigating a whistleblower complaint charging improprieties in the accounting at a subsidiary; and
Conducting Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower investigations.
Privacy, HIPAA & Security
We counsel employers on the rules of hybrid entities, “ownership” of health care data, privacy and firewalls, and whistleblower protections and investigations.
Drinker Biddle lawyers are frequently retained by corporate stakeholders, including boards of directors, audit committees and general counsel, to conduct confidential and independent internal investigations of suspected employee misconduct, often brought to the company’s attention through whistleblower complaints. In assessing the nature and extent of suspected wrongdoing, we work closely with our clients to help them evaluate the potential impact of the alleged misconduct, make decisions regarding the reporting of any confirmed wrongdoing and formulate appropriate corrective measures.
The combination of record government procurement levels and the upward trend of qui tam and whistleblower actions call for increased vigilance on behalf of our government contracting clients. With the Department of Justice’s creation of the National Procurement Fraud Task Force in 2006, extensive government resources have been dedicated to the investigation and prosecution of misconduct involving defective pricing, product substitution, misuse of classified or other sensitive information, false claims, grant fraud, labor mischarging, accounting fraud, fraud involving foreign sales, conflicts of interest and other ethical breaches. On the non-government purchasing side, ever more sophisticated schemes involving both purchasers and vendors test all companies at a time of increased corporate accountability. Our lawyers have a wealth of experience representing government contractors and their employees, as well as companies and institutions in general commerce, in matters involving allegations of procurement fraud.
Representative engagements include:
Conducting an internal investigation on behalf of a Fortune 1000 telecommunications hardware company in connection with allegations of inflated inventories and vendor kickbacks;
Conducting an internal investigation on behalf of a major educational institution in connection with allegations of fraud in the procurement of construction services;
Conducting an internal investigation on behalf of a computer manufacturer and representing that company in connection with a federal procurement fraud investigation involving computer sales to the Drug Enforcement Administration;
Conducting internal investigations for a prime contractor on federal courthouse construction projects in connection with alleged Anti-Kickback Act violations and alleged procurement fraud, and representing that company in separate state criminal investigations;
Representing the general manager of a defense contractor in connection with a Department of Defense/Department of Justice investigation into an alleged conspiracy to circumvent manufacturing, testing and quality assurance requirements in the production of nuclear, biological and chemical filters for use in military tanks; and
Representing a worldwide heavy construction company in connection with allegations of bid rigging on United States Agency for International Development (USAID) construction contracts.