The Downside of the Advice-of-Counsel Defense

Intent is a necessary element of a False Claims Act (FCA) violation.  If a defendant reasonably relied on advice of counsel in performing the actions at issue, the intent element is absent.  That’s the upside of the advice-of-counsel defense.  But there’s a downside, and a recent federal decision in a major …

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Jurisdiction to Freeze Assets but Not to Thaw Them

A recent Fourth Circuit opinion in a False Claims Act case demonstrates that while the government can freeze defendants’ assets before trial with lightning speed, getting them unfrozen can take anywhere from many years to never. In 2014 whistleblowers filed a qui tam action against BlueWave Healthcare …

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Government Wants to Settle, Whistleblowers Don’t

What happens when the government wants to settle a False Claims Act case, but the whistleblowers who filed the case don’t?  That was the question before the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. Airport hangar owners David Shepard and William Marvel brought a whistleblower case against the …

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Far-Fetched Whistleblower Claim of the Month

The hospital industry is accustomed to far-fetched whistleblower claims: allegations that a hospital knowingly submitted false or fraudulent Medicare or Medicaid claims or fired a whistleblower for trying to prevent such activity.  But in terms of far-fetched claims decided in January, whistleblower Jana Endicott …

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False Claims that Don’t Violate the False Claims Act

The False Claims Act (FCA) establishes heavy liability (treble damages and penalties that can exceed over $20,000 per claim) for any person who knowingly presents a false claim for payment to the government.  It also provides a right of action for any employee fired for trying to stop violations of the act. So …

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The Difference between Expecting Referrals & Inducing Them

A new Fifth Circuit opinion explains the difference between offering a benefit in order to induce a Medicare referral and offering it in the expectation of a referral.  The difference is important because the former is a serious federal crime, while the latter is perfectly legal. Whistleblower Susan Ruscher …

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