South Carolina Injury & Accident Lawyers

Seeking Truth. Securing Justice. In conference rooms and courtrooms across South Carolina, we do battle because we believe in the rights and power of hardworking people. We believe you deserve more than a chance - you deserve a voice. You deserve the truth. You deserve justice. Contact Us Today.

Columbia Medicare Fraud LawyerMedicare fraud is a huge illegal business that costs all of us. In fact, scamming Medicare has become so lucrative that Nigerian and Russian mobsters have gotten involved. One New York crime “family” moved to Florida, because Medicare fraud is safer than traditional criminal activities, and much more lucrative, according to Forbes magazine.

How much Medicare fraud exists? No one really knows.

How much has been stolen? Countless billions.

Often, Medicare fraud is only caught when a brave employee is willing to come forward and act as a whistleblower. Do you suspect fraud where you work? Could you be a whistleblower?

Medicare Fraud in South Carolina

South Carolina Medicare fraud is prosecuted under the national False Claims Act, otherwise known as the Whistleblower Act, Qui Tam Statute or Lincoln Law. It gives the everyday citizen the power to bring legal action on the government’s behalf against those who have defrauded the government. In a successful qui tam suit, whistleblowers may collect from 15 to 30 percent of the money recovered.

Unfortunately, a lot of Medicare fraud has occurred in our state and in our nation. Here are just a few recent cases:

Medicare Advantage plans have come under fire as well. Allegations have been made against Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina that they acted to cover up and hide fraudulent claims between 2006 and 2010. This same suit also named a Utah plan, formed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which contracted with Blue Cross to process claims.

If You Step Forward

Some people fear they will experience retaliation if they blow the whistle on fraud. But you should be aware that there are a number of legal protections for whistleblowers. The rewards of putting a stop to wrongdoing are many, and the Louthian Law Firm will be at your side throughout the process to ensure that your legal rights are protected.

When life goes wrong, we fight for what’s right.

If you have insider knowledge about Medicare fraud, you could be entitled to a significant cash reward in a qui tam suit. An estimated $6 billion has been recovered for the government, resulting in nearly $1 billion in rewards for whistleblowers, since the False Claims Act was revised in 1986 to make it easier for citizens to file qui tam actions.

An experienced qui tam attorney like the ones at the Louthian Law Firm can assess your case and help you file the necessary disclosure statement with the government if you have a valid case. In some instances, the government will “intervene” or take part in your lawsuit. A qualified attorney can help you structure your claims in such a way that the government will be persuaded to intervene in your case, possibly increasing the likelihood that you will recover reward money. However, even if the government doesn’t decide to intervene, it might still be advisable to pursue your case without government involvement.

For a free, confidential evaluation of your case, call the Louthian Law Firm today at 1-888-440-3211 or fill out the online consultation form. Louthian Law Firm. On the case. Around the clock.

Columbia Government Fraud Whistleblower LawyerWhistleblowers perform an important service in our society, especially as companies grow bigger, corporate financial statements grow murkier, and cheating sometimes generates little more than a cynical shrug. Many whistleblowers have saved untold numbers of lives. Some have had their own lives threatened, and a few have died. At times they have been considered heroes, at other times, traitors.

You’ve likely heard of some of the more famous US whistleblowers, because movies have been made about them:

  • Frank Serpico, who reported widespread corruption in the New York City Police Department in the Sixties and Seventies. Film: Serpico, starring Al Pacino.
  • Karen Silkwood, an employee of Kerr-McGee who documented unsafe working conditions at the plutonium plant where she worked. Contaminated with plutonium herself, she died in a car crash, with her proof documents missing, on her way to meet a journalist. Film: Silkwood, starring Meryl Streep.
  • Jeffrey Wigand, who appeared on national television to reveal that Brown & Williamson Tobacco intentionally included more nicotine in cigarettes in order to addict smokers more heavily. Film: The Insider, starring Russell Crowe.

No doubt in the recent past you’ve also heard of Harry Markopolos, who blew the whistle on Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme (the largest one in history), and Sherron Watkins, whose information took down Enron. Additionally, whether or not you agree with what he did, Edward Snowden can be called a whistleblower.

But we’d like to introduce you to some folks you might not have heard of, who have done good, have saved money, and, sometimes, have saved lives.

  • In 1984, John Michael Gravitt filed a qui tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act against General Electric, becoming the first person in 40 years to do so. Gravitt sued GE for falsely billing the U.S. Department of Defense for work on the B1 Lancer bomber. He was laid off from his job after he complained to supervisors. His case led to new federal legislation that strengthened the False Claims Act of 1986, which made it easier for whistleblowers to collect damages. The settlement was a record (at the time) $3.5 million.
  • In 2009, John Kopchinski, a former Pfizer sales representative who is also a West Point graduate, launched a qui tam suit which led to a government investigation into Pfizer’s illegal marketing of Bextra, a prescription painkiller that had caused deaths. The result ultimately was a $1.8 billion payout by Pfizer for the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history.
  • In 2003, Courtland Kelley headed up the General Motors inspection and quality assurance program. When he reported problems with the Chevrolet Cavalier and Cobalt models to his superiors, he received little response, so he sued. Even though he lost his case, he had done the right thing; ignition switches in the Cobalts ended up being linked to a number of crashes, resulting in 13 deaths. Because of Kelley, Cobalts were recalled and lives were saved. GM was fined $35 million by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for failing to recall the cars initially.

We at the Louthian Law Firm hope that this small peek into a few of the many dozens of whistleblowers who have done the right thing will inspire you to stand up against fraud should you encounter it.

When life goes wrong, we fight for what’s right.

If you have insider knowledge about governmental fraud, you could be entitled to a significant cash reward in a whistleblower suit. Whether it is Medicare fraud, tax fraud, defense contractor fraud, mortgage fraud, or some other kind of fraud, an experienced whistleblower attorney  like the ones at the Louthian Law Firm can assess your case and help you file the necessary disclosure statement with the government if you have a valid case. In some instances, the government will “intervene” or take part in your lawsuit. A qualified attorney can help you structure your claims in such a way that the government will be persuaded to intervene in your case, possibly increasing the likelihood that you will recover reward money. However, even if the government doesn’t decide to intervene, it might still be advisable to pursue your case without government involvement.

For a free, confidential evaluation of your case, call the Louthian Law Firm today at 1-888-440-3211 or fill out the online consultation form. Louthian Law Firm. 80 years of experience—on your side.

Guardrail Safety WhistleblowerWhen Joshua Harman decided to take on Trinity Highway Products LLC, questioning their redesign of a highway guardrail used on interstates across the United States, he was determined to expose what he saw as a safety hazard.

A 2005 redesign of the company’s ET-Plus end terminals had changed the action of the guardrail, Harman believed, turning it into a dagger when impacted, instead of a shock absorber.

Trinity’s ET-Plus had met federal requirements when it was assessed in 2000, but the changes had not been submitted for review, Harman’s case alleged.

Harman and other whistleblowers can take on corporations such as Trinity under the False Claims Act, a federal law that allows a person with knowledge of fraud to sue on behalf of the government. Harman’s case alleged that Trinity was aware of the dangers caused by the modified guardrails but didn’t notify the Federal Highway Administration.

The Jury Ruling & Fine

In June 2015, a Texas federal judge slapped the company with a $663 million judgment, based on a jury’s October 2014 decision that held Trinity liable for defrauding the Federal Highway Administration. The ruling found that Trinity had changed the ET-Plus design, never mentioned the modifications, and falsely certified that the FHA had approved them.

In the wake of the jury trial, at least 30 states, including South Carolina, stopped installing the ET-Plus guardrails until further safety testing could be performed. The South Carolina DOT says it had installed thousands of guardrail terminals, as the ET-Plus systems are called, before the court ruling, and can’t pinpoint exactly where the faulty systems are on South Carolina highways.

Informally, state officials believe that most of the guardrails recently installed were Trinity’s ET-Plus units, and they are now facing the prospect of locating all the units and determining the cost of replacing them.

That’s the action that Harman hoped to see when he stepped forward with the lawsuit. He wanted to get the faulty guardrails off the roads. And, as the whistleblower who faced Trinity on his own when the federal government opted not to participate, Harman was allotted 30% of the award, or about $199 million.

Speak to a Lawyer First

It takes determination to blow the whistle on fraud, and it can come at a high cost. Speaking out can take a toll on family dynamics and jeopardize your career. As with Harman’s case, the process can also take years and be incredibly stressful. He spent a lot of time traveling around the country, talking to accident victims and collecting evidence. Then the case went through the court process.

The best way to handle a whistleblower situation is to seek advice from attorneys knowledgeable of the issues involved in filing under the False Claims Act. If you’re thinking about taking action, righting a wrong, and revealing fraud, you need a lawyer who can guide you through the process and one who will support you in what may be a challenging period.

It may be challenging, but whistleblowing works. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners estimates that 43% of fraud within organizations is discovered through tips from knowledgeable insiders. Most whistleblowers come forward with information because they want to do the right thing.

If you’ve witnessed questionable practices and believe that you can make a difference by telling your story, consult with the lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm about blowing the whistle. Call 1-888-440-3211 to schedule a free consultation. Or fill out our online case evaluation form.

HDL WhistleblowerA Hilton Head doctor was one of three whistleblowers who exposed health care fraud being committed by Health Diagnostic Laboratories (HDL) of Richmond, VA, and Singulex Inc., of Alameda, CA. Three cases were filed in South Carolina against the companies under the False Claims Act, which allows people with evidence of fraud to sue corporations on behalf of the U.S. government.

Because it can be risky to uncover fraud and expose the people or businesses behind it, provisions in the False Claims Act state that the person bringing the case — the whistleblower — may be awarded up to 30% of the funds recovered.

HDL and Singulex were accused of paying doctors $10 to $17 for referring their patients for blood tests, even if they weren’t medically necessary. The two companies were billing federal programs, including Medicare, for the tests and then sharing the profits with physicians in a kickback scheme that labeled the money as processing and handling fees.

That brought another law into play: the Anti-Kickback Statute, which prohibits paying money in order to get referrals for services covered by federally funded programs. The statute is intended to ensure that a doctor’s judgment isn’t clouded by under-the-table financial incentives.

Multimillion-Dollar Settlement Reached

The U.S. Justice Department announced in April 2015 that HDL and Singulex agreed to multimillion-dollar settlements with the government, with HDL paying $47 million and Singulex paying $1.5 million. Federal attorneys said the large settlement was proof of their determination to work with whistleblowers who come forward to defend the integrity of the health care system.

The case was also cited as a victory for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), which was put into action in 2009 by the U.S. Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The partnership between the two offices was formed to target Medicare and Medicaid fraud, and since its establishment, HEAT has recovered more than $23.9 billion through False Claims Act cases.

Get an Attorney on Your Side

The three whistleblower cases in South Carolina prompted a federal investigation, and HDL CEO Tonya Mallory was sued by the U.S. federal government, along with four other defendants named in the case. This action followed the earlier settlement from HDL and Singulex and could mean Mallory will be responsible for paying millions in civil penalties.

The Department of Justice got involved in the process early, stepping into the South Carolina whistleblower suits and then continuing its investigation and working to hold the company heads personally responsible for the systematic fraud perpetrated through the kickback scheme with physicians.

Those who suspect a fraud is being perpetrated against the U.S. government, and against taxpayers, are well advised to seek the advice of a law firm experienced in preparing whistleblower complaints. Government lawyers often struggle under large case loads, and when the relator’s (whistleblower’s) disclosures are well drafted by a private law firm, the government is more likely to intervene in the case and bring their resources to bear against the defendants.

At the Louthian Law Firm, we’re ready to provide wise counsel to those who may have grounds to file a whistleblower claim, and all such discussions are strictly confidential. A consultation with one of our lawyers is free. Please call 1-888-440-3211 to set up a meeting at our firm, or simply fill our contact form and an attorney experienced with whistleblower cases will be in contact.

Bicycling in South CarolinaSouth Carolina is in the top 5 states for bicycle fatalities. (See our recent infographic for more facts and figures about bicycling in the Palmetto State: One step we could take to increase safety for cyclists is enactment of a 3-foot passing law.

Skeptics of the 3-foot laws say enforcement is difficult, especially if there is no collision between the vehicle and the bicycle. Proponents, on the other hand, say the collection of fines is not the point — the point is to increase awareness by drivers that they must safely share the road.

When states consider such legislation, a public dialogue ensues, putting the issue of bicycle safety top of mind. Once the 3-foot law is enacted, a public education campaign typically follows, again bringing attention to the topic and causing motorists to be aware that they are expected to alter their driving behavior.

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wood-flooring“60 Minutes” aired an expose about some Lumber Liquidators flooring products having illegal and dangerously high levels of formaldehyde.

It’s important to note that only some products have been implicated as potentially harmful. They were manufactured in China, and lab tests found levels of formaldehyde that exceeded (in some cases up to 20 times) acceptable limits. The “60 Minutes” report sampled laminate flooring sold in California, Virginia, Florida, Texas and Illinois.

So far there have been three class-action lawsuits filed, two in California and one in Florida. They allege violations of federal and state laws, false and deceptive advertising and labeling, and violations of expressed and implied warranties.

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Bicycle Helmet Safety - South CarolinaEach year, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) conducts a campaign to increase awareness about brain injuries — their causes, costs and treatment.

It’s not just a matter of putting some comfy foam padding between your head and the hard, rough ground. Brain injuries from a sudden bike crash are similar to those that can be sustained in a car crash: Although the vehicle stops moving, the tissue inside the skull doesn’t. A helmet helps the head slow down gradually by cushioning the blow with specialized foam that crushes and doesn’t bounce back, and the plastic shell helps by allowing the head to slide over the ground so the neck doesn’t get wrenched.

Continue Reading: Bicycle Safety in South Carolina

prescriptions-fdaAccording to its own website, the FDA “is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, quality, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products, and medical devices.”

But does the FDA protect the public? As recently reported by Slate magazine:

“When the FDA finds scientific fraud or misconduct, the agency doesn’t notify the public, the medical establishment, or even the scientific community that the results of a medical experiment are not to be trusted. On the contrary. For more than a decade, the FDA has shown a pattern of burying the details of misconduct. As a result, nobody ever finds out which data is bogus, which experiments are tainted, and which drugs might be on the market under false pretenses. The FDA has repeatedly hidden evidence of scientific fraud not just from the public, but also from its most trusted scientific advisers, even as they were deciding whether or not a new drug should be allowed on the market. Even a congressional panel investigating a case of fraud regarding a dangerous drug couldn’t get forthright answers. For an agency devoted to protecting the public from bogus medical science, the FDA seems to be spending an awful lot of effort protecting the perpetrators of bogus science from the public.”

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jeep-suv-fireWe hope to see continuing news reports on what consumer activist Ralph Nader called “a modern day Pinto for soccer moms.” He was referring, of course, to the notorious Ford Pinto exploding gas tanks.

In October of 2009, the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to initiate a defect investigation into and recall of all 1993 – 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees, designed with the fuel tank located behind the rear axle. They cited research showing that between 1992 and 2008, there were car accidents that included 172 fatal fire crashes, causing 254 fatalities, in these vehicles.

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Columbia, SC MalpracticeWhen comedienne Joan Rivers died last August during what was described as a routine outpatient procedure, some people began to wonder what went wrong. Now Rivers’ daughter has filed a multimillion-dollar medical malpractice lawsuit against the clinic and the two doctors and three anesthesiologists who treated her mother, alleging that their negligence triggered a coma and her mother’s death from brain damage caused by a loss of oxygen.

Just as parents have discovered that kids can and will access the Internet for more than the Encyclopedia Britannica, hospitals and patients are discovering that medical staff use their electronic devices for researching things unrelated to patient care — things like shopping on eBay, posting on Facebook, personal calls and texting — all while they are supposed to be giving direct and undivided attention to the patient.

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