Whistleblower Representation for False Claims Act Whistleblowers
Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto represents numerous whistleblowers under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act who have risked their careers to expose fraud in government contracting and procurement.
In one such case, Dr. Aaron Westrick forced the recall of thousands of unsafe bulletproof vests sold to law enforcement and members of the U.S. military. Dr. Westrick worked as a senior manager for the largest manufacturer of bulletproof vests. As a whistleblower, he fought to protect police officers by forcing defective bulletproof vests off the market. In June 2005, the Department of Justice (DOJ) intervened in the false claims act lawsuit. Two weavers, Barrdayand Hexcel, settled with the DOJ for $1 million and $15 million respectively. In related actions, the government has collected tens of millions as a direct result of Dr. Westrick’s disclosures. Second Chance admitted liability in its bankruptcy proceeding and paid the United States millions of dollars in damages. Dr. Westrick also prevailed in a related action filed under the State of California’s False Claims Act. On March 15, 2018, the DOJ announced a settlement in which the Japanese manufacturer of Zylon, Toyobo Co., Ltd., agreed to pay the United States $66 million. The final victory in this case came on July 16, 2018 when a settlement was reached with former Second Chance president and CEO Richard C. Davis, who agreed to pay the government $125,000 to settle claims related to the False Claims Act suit filed against Second Chance.
In another case, KKC represented the key whistleblower in one of the largest pharmaceutical case-recoveries in history, which resulted in Bristol-Meyers Squibb having to pay back over $500 million dollars in false claims to U.S. taxpayers.
In addition to representing clients, the partners of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto have taken the lead in defending the False Claims Act before Congress and in rebutting the attempts by the Chamber of Commerce to weaken the law.
Originally enacted by President Lincoln to curb rampant profiteering during the Civil War, the False Claims Act is the most effective whistleblower law ever passed to protect and reward whistleblowers that expose fraud in government contracting. Acting under the law’s qui tam provisions, KKC has helped its clients recover hundreds of millions of dollars that government contractors had stolen from American taxpayers.
The False Claims Act is 31 USC § 3729-3733. The qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act allow persons and entities with evidence of fraud against federal programs or contracts to sue the wrongdoer on behalf of the United States government. In qui tam actions, the government has the right to intervene and join the action. If the government declines, the private plaintiff may proceed on his or her own.
False claims include: knowingly presenting (or causing to be presented) to the federal government a false or fraudulent claim for payment; knowingly using (or causing to be used) a false record or statement to get a claim paid by the federal government; conspiring with others to get a false or fraudulent claim paid by the federal government; and knowingly using (or causing to be used) a false record or statement to conceal, avoid, or decrease an obligation to pay money or transmit property to the federal government.
Violators of the False Claims Act are liable for three times the dollar amount that the government is defrauded and civil penalties of $5,000 to $10,000 for each false claim. A qui tam plaintiff can receive between 15 and 30 percent of the total recovery from the defendant, whether through a favorable judgment or settlement. To be eligible to recover money under the Act, you must file a qui tam lawsuit. Merely informing the government about the violation is not enough. You only receive an award if, and after, the government recovers money from the defendant as a result of your suit.
If you have knowledge of false claims and are looking for whistleblower representation contact us.
For more information, see our resource page on the False Claims Act or visit the Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto Blog.