Articles Posted in Whistleblower Information

The Mayo Clinic has agreed to pay more than $1.2 million to settle a federal lawsuit claiming it billed the government for lab tests that it never performed.

The U.S. Department of Justice said the lawsuit was filed under the False Claims Act, which allows “qui tam” suits by citizens acting as whistleblowers. The Justice Department became involved after the lead whistleblower, physician and attorney David Ketroser, filed his suit in 2007.

Ketroser and other whistleblowers will split about $229,800 as their share of the settlement.

The whistleblowers and the Justice Department accused the Mayo Clinic of accepting payments from Medicare and Medicaid for lab tests that it never conducted. In a statement, the Mayo Clinic said the payments were the result of a billing error and denied that it had intentionally overbilled Medicare and Medicaid.

The allegations related to lab tests performed from 1999 to 2007. After Ketroser filed suit, the Mayo Clinic changed its billing practices and voluntarily repaid more than $260,000 to the federal government. Mayo had seven days as of Aug. 2 to pay the additional $1 million.

Government Encourages Citizens to Act
The Mayo Clinic settlement is among a growing number of settlements and awards that have helped the federal government stop big business fraud, thanks to whistleblower lawsuits. The federal government has been more and more interested in pursuing investigations begun by whistleblowers, particularly involving health care providers.

As we have mentioned, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently announced an additional $300 million in her budget to pursue health care fraud. Health care fraud includes wrongdoing such as false claims or fraudulent billing for services under Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

If You Suspect Fraud, Contact A Whistleblower Lawyer
If you work for a health care employer or other business that may be defrauding the federal government, you may be able to file suit under the False Claims Act and share in a settlement. Talk to the experienced South Carolina whistleblower attorneys in the Louthian Law Firm who can tell you whether you have a case. Remember, the False Claims Act will protect you from retribution by your employer.
We will review your case at no charge to you. Call us today at 888-926-9942 or fill out our convenient online form.

Bert Louthian, a Columbia attorney who handles whistleblower cases, today expressed his dismay at a new survey that says employees who report misconduct are facing increased retaliation for doing so.

“Besides the fact that these courageous people are suffering abuse for pointing out corruption and fraud, we are particularly discouraged by the Ethics Resource Center’s conclusion that this problem of retaliation is likely to grow,” said Louthian, a South Carolina False Claims Act attorney and a partner at the Louthian Law Firm, P.A., in Columbia.

“We want workers in South Carolina and elsewhere to understand that they are legally protected when they report fraud and other misconduct in business. But in order to reap the benefits of the law’s protection, they often need the assistance of a law firm that employs experienced False Claims Act attorneys,” he said.

The Ethics Resource Center (ERC) released its biannual National Business Ethics Survey earlier this month. According to the survey’s results, the misconduct U.S. workers had witnessed fell to a historic low, although “retaliation against employee whistleblowers rose sharply..

The survey found that 22 percent of those who reported bad behavior – some 9 million Americans – said they experienced some form of retaliation, up from 15 percent in the 2009 survey and only 12 percent in 2007.

“Most of the retaliation was passive, such as being excluded from decisions and work activity by a supervisor or being given a cold shoulder by peers,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “But 44 percent said they were reassigned, one third of employees said they were demoted and 31 percent said they experienced physical harm to themselves or their property..

“As the economy gets better – and companies and employees become more optimistic about their financial futures – it seems likely that misconduct will rise and reporting will drop, mirroring the growth in pressure and retaliation that have already taken place,” the ERC said in its key findings.

The False Claims Act, known as the “whistleblower law,” is meant to protect workers who report fraudulent activity pertaining to government funds. The law provides the means for individuals to file lawsuits on behalf of government agencies being defrauded, which are known as “qui tam claims.” Whistleblowers may collect 15 to 30 percent of any money recovered in a successful lawsuit.

A whistleblower lawsuit typically pertains to tax fraud, health care fraud (such as false Medicaid or Medicare claims), Social Security fraud or corporate fraud that involves overbilling the government or submitting false information to regulatory agencies, Louthian said.

“The complexity and intimidation factors involved in a qui tam lawsuit are why a whistleblower should contact an experienced False Claims Act attorney before moving forward,” Louthian said.

“A lawyer can advise a worker and assist them in collecting documentation of their claim. Then, should retaliation come, they will not be alone; their attorney will stand beside them every step of the way..

About The Louthian Law Firm
The Louthian Law Firm, P.A., of Columbia, S.C., has been obtaining fair compensation for personal injury victims since 1959. The firm was founded by Herbert Louthian, who has more than 50 years of trial experience and is licensed to practice in all courts in South Carolina. In addition to whistleblower claims, the Louthian Law Firm handles personal injury cases involving medical malpractice; car, truck and motorcycle accidents; and other serious and catastrophic injuries throughout South Carolina. For a free, confidential case evaluation, contact the firm by phone at (866) 410-5656 or through its online contact form.

Bert Louthian, a South Carolina attorney who focuses on whistleblower lawsuits, said today that he supports government inspectors who recently told lawmakers, according to Fox News, that more needs to be done to prevent doctors from prescribing psychiatric drugs that are not approved to treat dementia in afflicted nursing home residents.

Fox News reported that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 83 percent of Medicare claims for antipsychotic medications – normally used to treat people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder – were prescribed for patients with dementia. Almost 305,000 nursing home residents were prescribed antipsychotics.

The medications have been linked to an increased risk of death in seniors, which has led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to repeatedly caution against prescribing such drugs for easing aggressive behaviors associated with dementia, according to Fox News.

“There have been multiple warnings to practitioners against the health risks of using antipsychotic medications for people with dementia, both from the federal government and the drug companies who warn against it on their labels,” said Louthian, of the Columbia (S.C.) personal injury law firm, Louthian Law Firm, P.A.

“Now it’s time for people to step forward and prevent a serious health crisis by alerting the public to such continued misuse..

Louthian said that “off-label use,” or the use of drugs beyond the scope for which they are approved, is a nationwide problem that is beginning to receive widespread attention through qui tam litigation, or whistleblower claims.

“Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly being held accountable for promoting the use of their drugs for off-label uses,” the South Carolina lawyer said. “That is a violation of the False Claims Act because payment for off-label use of prescription medications by Medicare or Medicaid is not eligible for reimbursement..

The False Claims Act pertains to any kind of fraudulent claim in the U.S., including tax fraud, health care fraud (such as false Medicaid or Medicare claims), Social Security fraud or corporate fraud that involves overbilling the government or submitting false information to regulatory agencies.

Another major area of qui tam litigation is occurring among medical practices that are billing Medicare for services that aren’t authorized, Louthian said.

“What we have seen is they will tack on a $25 charge here or a $50 charge there thinking that nobody will notice – and Medicare doesn’t notice because oversight and enforcement appear to be practically nonexistent – until an employee of the medical practice comes forward,” Louthian said. “It doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up, and there can be a hefty per occurrence monetary penalty..

Lawyers who are well-versed in qui tam litigation and whistleblower claims can assist workers in bringing the fraud to light without fear of retaliation from their employers.

“Being a whistleblower is not necessarily a role that people are comfortable playing,” Louthian said. “While they may reap financial rewards from a successful qui tam lawsuit due to treble damages and other penalties – which may add up even though the fraud they see may appear to be small — they also must face a lengthy legal process that can be stressful and overwhelming,” Louthian said.

“But when you’re talking about protecting innocent people from harms caused by off-label or other abuses, people need to summon the courage to bring the truth to light..

About The Louthian Law Firm
The Louthian Law Firm, P.A., of Columbia, S.C., has been obtaining fair compensation for personal injury victims since 1959. The firm was founded by Herbert Louthian, who has more than 50 years of trial experience and is licensed to practice in all courts in South Carolina. The Louthian Law Firm focuses on personal injury cases involving medical malpractice; car, truck and motorcycle accidents; and other serious and catastrophic injuries throughout South Carolina. For a free, confidential case evaluation, contact the firm by phone at (866) 410-5656 or through its online form.