Dispute over whistleblower’s bounty featured in Bloomberg Law report

A December 26, 2017 report by Bloomberg Law cited a district court’s decision to award a False Claims Act (FCA) whistleblower 28 percent of the recovery over the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) argument she should receive the statutory minimum of 25 percent.

The report, titled “DOJ’s Health-Care Fraud Recoveries Dip to Under $2.5B in FY2017”, provides a sna  pshot of FCA recoveries in 2017 as reported by DOJ. Last year, the government recovered $3.7B, down from $4.7B in 2016. The total number of lawsuit was also down slightly with 544 new FCA suits filed in fiscal year 2017, compared to 572 in 2016.

The FCA, also known as the “Lincoln Law”, imposes liability on individuals and companies who defraud governmental programs and is the federal government’s primary tool in battling fraud. A whistleblower with knowledge of fraud against the government can file a lawsuit on behalf of the government to recover the ill-gotten gains and share in a portion of the recovery–somewhere between 15 to 30 percent depending on the government’s involvement. The government can either intervene in the lawsuit and takeover the litigation, or allow the whistleblower to proceed on her own. FCA lawsuits filed by whistleblowers accounted for 98.7 percent of recoveries in 2017.

Pharmaceutical companies paid the largest of health-care FCA settlements in 2017, including a $259 million settlement with drug-maker Celgene in a case brought by a former drug representative for the company, Beverly Brown. DOJ declined to intervene in the Celgene case, but then disputed the percentage Brown should be awarded for her efforts. The United States District Court for the Central District of California recently awarded Ms. Brown 28 percent of the recovery. Ms. Brown is represented by Dick Harpootlian and Chris Kenney, along with Guttman Buschner & Brooks PLLC in Washington, D.C. and Bienert Miller & Katzman in California.

The case is United States ex rel. Brown v. Celgene Corp., C.A. No. 10-cv-3165 (C.D. Cal.).

To read the entire Bloomberg report, click here: DOJ’s Health-Care Fraud Recoveries Dip to Under $2.5B in FY2017

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