Gordon Schnell has been a partner of Constantine Cannon since 1999, specializing in the representation of whistleblowers under the False Claims Act, the SEC whistleblower provisions under the Dodd-Frank Act, and the vast array of other federal and state whistleblower laws. He founded the firm’s whistleblower practice and with more than 20 whistleblower lawyers in the firm’s four offices in the United States and Europe, it has grown into one of the largest and most successful whistleblower practice groups in the world. Mr. Schnell also litigates and counsels clients on a wide variety of antitrust, fraud and other complex commercial litigation issues. He practices at all levels of federal court and regularly represents clients before the Department of Justice, the various state attorneys general, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other federal and state enforcement agencies.
Mr. Schnell graduated from Columbia University School of Law in 1991 as a Stone Scholar, and from Tufts University in 1986, summa cum laude, with a degree in electrical engineering and physics. He also attended the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship. Mr. Schnell is a two-time recipient of the N. Hobbs Knight Prize Scholarship in Physics, is listed in the International Who’s Who of Competition Lawyers, and has been selected repeatedly to the Thomson Reuters listing of New York Super Lawyers.
Mr. Schnell writes and speaks extensively on whistleblower, fraud and antitrust issues and has been featured in US News and World Report, CNN, Huffington Post, Business Insider, the Hill, Global Competition Review, European Competition Law Review, Competition Policy International, National Law Journal, and New York Law Journal, among other national, legal and industry publications. He is routinely interviewed and quoted in major business publications across the country, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, CNN, Bloomberg, USA Today, Newsweek and NPR. Prior to joining Constantine Cannon, Mr. Schnell was associated with the international law firm Coudert Brothers. Prior to law school, he worked briefly as an electrical engineer for Westinghouse.
- US ex rel. Ormsby v. Sutter Health. Mr. Schnell recently secured a $90 million settlement for his whistleblower client and the United States in this qui tam action against Sutter Health, one of the largest hospital systems in the country. The case alleged Sutter and its affiliates defrauded the government’s Medicare Part C program, known as Medicare Advantage, by submitting inaccurate and unsupported medical information which artificially inflated the reimbursement Medicare provides for Sutter’s Medicare Advantage patients. In December 2018, the United States intervened in the case and in March 2020, the Court denied Sutter’s motion to dismiss the complaint. See 444 F. Supp. 3d 1010. The settlement is the largest False Claims Act settlement against a hospital system involving allegations of fraud on the Medicare Advantage program, and the second largest reported Medicare Advantage fraud settlement ever. Read more about the settlement here.
- US ex rel. Lacey v. Visiting Nurse Services of New York. Mr. Schnell recently secured a $57 million settlement for his whistleblower client and the United States in this qui tam action against VNSNY, one of the largest home health care agencies in the country. The case alleged VNSNY failed to provide patients all the critical visits and services their doctors prescribed in patient Plans of Care. It is the first reported False Claims Act settlement involving allegations of a home health agency failing to follow patient Plans of Care. It also is the largest non-kickback False Claims Act settlement ever against a home health care company and the second largest settlement of any home health care fraud case. Read more about the settlement here. See 2017 WL 5515860.
- US ex rel. Krahling v. Merck. Mr. Schnell currently represents two virologists formerly employed at Merck who have brought a qui tam action under the False Claims Act, alleging Merck has defrauded the government through (i) Merck’s ongoing failure to disclose and efforts to conceal the alleged significantly diminished efficacy of its mumps vaccine, and (ii) Merck’s continued sale to the government of a vaccine that it allegedly falsely represents as having an efficacy rate significantly higher than it actually is. Mr. Schnell defeated Merck’s motion to dismiss and the case is currently pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. See 2014 WL 4407969.
- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. et al. v. Visa U.S.A., Inc. and MasterCard Int’l Inc. Mr. Schnell represented Wal-Mart, Sears, Safeway and a class of roughly 5 million U.S. merchants in this antitrust class action against Visa and MasterCard. After the plaintiffs won summary judgment on a majority of the claims in this action, the parties settled with the plaintiffs recovering $3.05 billion and injunctive relief valued by the court at tens of billions of dollars more. This landmark victory remains one of the largest antitrust settlements in U.S. history. See 297 F. Supp. 2d 503, aff’d 396 F.3d 96.
- US ex rel. Spay v. CVS Caremark. Mr. Schnell represented Senator Charles Grassley in writing and filing an amicus brief in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the district court’s dismissal based on its finding of a “government knowledge inference” from generalized knowledge of an industry practice. Senator Grassley was the principal Senate sponsor of the 1986 amendments to the False Claims Act as well as a sponsor of the many additional amendments that followed, all designed to substantially strengthen the statute and correct questionable court decisions which improperly limited the Act’s reach.
- US ex rel. Beeson v. Rose Cancer Center. Mr. Schnell represented Kristi Beeson who reported Medicare fraud violations at her former employer Rose Cancer Center in Mississippi. Ms. Beeson, who was a laboratory technician for the clinic, brought a qui tam action under the False Claims Act against the clinic alleging, among other things, unqualified technicians performing bone marrow biopsies, diluting chemotherapy drugs, and doctoring patient records to conceal the clinic’s fraudulent Medicare billings. The physician who owned and ran the practice, Dr. Meera Sachdeva, pleaded guilty to various Medicare fraud violations, forfeited $5.7 million, and is now serving a 20 year prison sentence for her crimes.
- Sealed Whistleblower Matters. Mr. Schnell is currently handling or investigating (or has recently done so) numerous whistleblower matters under the False Claims Act and SEC/CFTC whistleblower provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act involving one or more of the following subject areas: Commodities/Securities Manipulation; Failure to Comply With Government Requirements/Standards; False Government Certifications; Financial Services Fraud; Government Contracting Fraud; Government Grant Fraud; Government Overcharges; Illegal Kickbacks; Illegal Upcoding; Medicare/Medicaid Fraud; Medicare Part C Fraud; Monopolization; Price-Fixing, Securities Fraud; Selling Defective Products; and Providing Unqualified, Unnecessary Healthcare Services.
- Supreme Fuels v. IOTC. Mr. Schnell represented Supreme Fuels, a multinational government/military supply contractor, in an antitrust/RICO action relating to the company’s loss of a $1 billion contract to supply fuel to the U.S. troops in Iraq. The case was settled shortly after Mr. Schnell defeated the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case. See 2009 WL 5128504.
- Kearse v. Kaplan, Inc. Mr. Schnell represented Kaplan in a proposed class action alleging a per se illegal market allocation agreement between Kaplan and BAR/BRI involving their respective LSAT and bar review prep courses. Mr. Schnell successfully dismissed the action on the pleadings. See 692 F. Supp. 2d 398.
- Cherny v. Emigrant Bank. Mr. Schnell represented Emigrant Bank in a proposed class action challenging certain conduct relating to the bank’s online banking practices. Mr. Schnell successfully dismissed the action on the pleadings. See 604 F. Supp. 2d 605.
- Funeral Consumers Alliance et al. v. Service Corp. Int’l. et al. Mr. Schnell represented a consumer rights group and individual consumers in a price-fixing/group boycott challenge against the three largest funeral home chains and largest casket maker in the U.S. Mr. Schnell successfully argued before the Fifth Circuit Court of appeals to reverse the district court’s dismissal of this action. See 695 F.3d 330.
- Kesmai Corp., et al. v. America Online, Inc. et al. Mr. Schnell represented The News Corporation subsidiary Kesmai Corporation in this antitrust and fraud action against the former America Online. This case settled on the eve of trial after Mr. Schnell defeated America Online’s motion to dismiss the case on summary judgment.
- Dolan et al. v. Fidelity National Titles Ins. Co. Mr. Schnell represented numerous consumers in this price-fixing challenge to the collective setting of New York title insurance rates by the country’s four largest title insurance companies. Subsequent to the filing of the complaint and its front page coverage in the Wall Street Journal, more than 75 “copycat” actions were filed in numerous jurisdictions throughout the country.