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WB Group Successes

Members of the Constantine Cannon Whistleblower Lawyer Team have been responsible for a string of major whistleblower successes over more than a decade.  Please see our Whistleblower Team Successes page.

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Mid Dakota Clinic – Medicare Fraud/ASC Kickbacks ($5.45M)

The Constantine Cannon team represented Jeffery Neuberger, the former CEO of a medical group in North Dakota, in a 2017 False Claims Act case alleging a scheme in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) between the medical group and its wholly owned ambulatory surgery center (ASC).  The AKS is intended to prevent abuses (such as unnecessary treatments) that can occur when a doctor makes money from referring patients for goods or services.  The ASC safe-harbor to the AKS is limited; it essentially permits ASC ownership only by surgeons who perform procedures or surgeries in the ASC as a functional extension of his or her office.  The lawsuit alleges that all of the multi-practice physician owners profited from referrals, not only the surgeons, and that they refused to give up this lucrative income stream despite knowing that it violated the AKS.  In November 2019, Mid Dakota Clinic, its affiliated building partnership, and insurer agreed to pay the United States $4.15 million to resolve the case.  The clinic additionally paid $1.3 million for the whistleblower’s attorneys’ fees and costs, for a total payment of $5.45 million.  The United States awarded Mr. Neuberger a 25% relator’s share of its recovery.

Wireless Carriers – Government Contracting Fraud ($138.7 million)

Constantine Cannon represented whistleblower OnTheGo Wireless, LLC, in state False Claims Act litigation against the four largest U.S. wireless carriers, AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile, that resulted in the recovery of $138.7 million for the states of California, Nevada, and other jurisdictions, including political subdivisions in those states.  The whistleblower, an industry expert but not an insider at any of the carriers, alleged that the carriers knowingly failed to comply with contractual promises to deliver service “at the lowest cost available,” and provide rate plan “optimization” reports each quarter.  The contracts in questions were cooperative purchasing contracts that allowed different government entities to purchase under the terms and conditions of a master contract negotiated by a lead government agency.  For the carriers, becoming providers under the cooperative purchasing agreements gave them access to a multi-billion dollar market and, eager to have that access, the carriers agreed to provide rate plan optimization, but then, according to the whistleblower, failed to provide it.  The contracts were long-standing and the terms highly specialized.  And, many government agencies agreed to purchase under the contracts based solely on the fact they were put together by the Western States Contracting Alliance (“WSCA”).  This created an opportunity, OnTheGo alleged, that the carriers knowingly exploited to breach their promise to deliver low cost service and rate plan optimization, resulting in hundreds of millions of overcharges to government entities.  Over 30 California political subdivisions intervened in the California action and were also represented by Constantine Cannon; the State of Nevada intervened in the Nevada action. Plaintiffs ultimately recovered $138.7 million, and the whistleblower received a relator share of nearly 40%.  See Press Release and Whistleblower Insider for more.

Visiting Nurse Service of New York – Medicare/Medicaid Home Health Care Fraud ($57 million)

Constantine Cannon represented whistleblower Edward Lacey against Visiting Nurse Service of New York – the largest not-for-profit home health care agency in the United States.  VNSNY agreed to pay $57 million to resolve allegations it failed to provide home health care visits and services to tens of thousands of New Yorkers and fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid.  Mr. Lacey was an executive at VNSNY for 16 years.  In his complaint, Mr. Lacey alleged that VNSNY failed to provide its patients all the critical nursing and therapy visits and services their doctors prescribed under the patient Plans of Care.  He contended that by failing to provide this care, VNSNY endangered the welfare of tens of thousands of its patients while maximizing the company's Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.  Mr. Lacey's claims concerning alleged Plan of Care failures impact the entire home health care industry.  This 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: Press Release; Whistleblower Insider.

Sharp HealthCare — Medicare Fraud/Kickbacks (undisclosed settlement amount)

Three of our whistleblower attorneys represented a whistleblower in a qui tam action under the False Claims Act against Sharp HealthCare, a regional hospital system in San Diego.  Our client alleged that the Sharp Healthcare Center for Research, Sharp’s clinical-trial research arm, fraudulently billed government payers in violation of “secondary payer” rules that prohibit billing the government when other payers will pay for a patient’s care. Our whistleblower client also alleged that Sharp cultivated an illegal kickback scheme to entice prospective trial sponsors to host clinical trials at Sharp by regularly undervaluing Sharp’s costs involved in managing clinical trials.  By offering below-market value incentives and billing government and commercial insurers for injuries, the lawsuit alleged that Sharp sought to increase its attractiveness to trial sponsors. Sharp’s alleged purpose was to burnish the organization’s reputation and offer a lucrative stream of income for Sharp-affiliated physicians involved in clinical trials. Sharp settled the whistleblower’s case for an undisclosed amount.  Read more here.

Unitrans International Inc., Anham FZCO, et al. — Government Contract Fraud ($45 million)

Our attorneys represented Rory Maxwell, John Bush, and Supreme Foodservice GmbH in a qui tam action under the False Claims Act against Unitrans International Inc., a privately held Virginia defense contracting company, and Anham FZCO, an associated Dubai Free Zone company, for making false certifications of compliance with the U.S. sanctions regime against Iran to induce the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency and the U.S. Army to award Anham wartime contracts to provide food and transportation to U.S. troops.  Our whistleblower clients also alleged Anham knowingly and falsely represented construction progress on its Bagram warehouse in related bid proposals to the government.  In December 2019, Unitrans agreed to pay $45 million to resolve criminal and civil allegations related to this alleged misconduct, which includes $27 million to resolve our whistleblower clients’ False Claims Act allegations.  Read more about the case at the Department of Justice website here and in The Washington Post here.

Cisco Systems, Inc. – Government Contract Fraud/Non-Conforming Product ($8.6 million)

Constantine Cannon represented whistleblower James Glenn against Cisco in the first cybersecurity whistleblower case ever successfully resolved under the False Claims Act. Cisco Systems, Inc. agreed to an $8.6 million settlement to resolve allegations it knowingly sold vulnerable video surveillance software to federal, state and local government agencies, exposing government systems to the risk of unauthorized access and the manipulation of vital information. The whistleblower, who worked in Europe for a Cisco partner, had reported critical security vulnerabilities in the software to Cisco, but Cisco had continued to sell the technology to government entities, including the District of Columbia and 15 states, despite the fact that the software failed to comply with FAR procurement standards that require basic cybersecurity controls, including those set forth by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  Read more: Press Release; Whistleblower Insider

Hyundai Oilbank Co., S-Oil Corporation, et al — Government Contract Fraud/Bid-Rigging ($363 million)

A team of our whistleblower attorneys led the representation of an anonymous whistleblower who provided extensive assistance to the U.S. government in its criminal and civil cases against several Korean oil and transportation companies, for their roles in a conspiracy to artificially inflate prices on fuel contracts for U.S. military bases in South Korea. In November 2018, SK Energy Co. Ltd., GS Caltex Corporation, and Hanjin Transportation Co. Ltd. collectively agreed to pay $154 million, to resolve the False Claims Act allegations brought by Constantine Cannon’s client, and an additional $82 million in criminal fines for their involvement in the conspiracy the whistleblower exposed. And in March 2019, the Department of Justice announced that two additional companies, Hyundai Oilbank Co. Ltd and S-Oil Corporation, would pay $75 million in criminal fines and $52 million to resolve these same False Claims Act and antitrust violations. This brings the settlement totals to $363 million and is the largest False Claims Act antitrust recovery as well as the largest False Claims Act settlement involving bid-rigging to date. Read more here.

Sutter Health, LLC – Medicare Advantage Risk Adjustment Fraud (Case Intervention)

Constantine Cannon represents the whistleblower, Kathy Ormsby, in False Claims Act litigation against Sutter Health and its affiliates including the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, where Ms. Ormsby worked as a Risk Adjustment Factor Project Manager and Coding Manager.  The Sutter Health defendants allegedly inflated the number and severity of Medicare Advantage patient diagnoses, manipulated patient records, ignored audit “red flags,” and engaged in other misconduct in order to increase patient risk scores and obtain Medicare Advantage payments to which they were not entitled. The United States filed a complaint in intervention in March, 2019, and the case continues to be actively litigated.  SeeGovernment Complaint in Intervention; Ormsby First Amended Complaint; DOJ Press Release

Skyline Urology — Healthcare Fraud ($2.1M)

Constantine Cannon represented a whistleblower in a qui tam lawsuit that alleged that from 2013 through 2016 a large urology practice had fraudulently and systematically misused a billing code in order to increase reimbursements from insurers, including Medicare and private insurers in California. The code, modifier 25, is properly used when a physician performs an evaluation and management service and a separate and distinct service on the same day. Billing with modifier 25 when no distinct service occurred can improperly inflate reimbursement rates and is known as “unbundling fraud.” The Federal Government recovered $1.85M and the State of California recovered $250,000 to resolve the allegations. For his efforts in uncovering the fraud, the whistleblower received a portion of both recoveries. See The National Law Review and Becker’s ASC Review for more.

Takata - Auto Safety ($1 billion)

Two former Takata employees, Mark Lillie and another man who chose to remain anonymous, provided extensive assistance to the U.S. government in its criminal case against Takata, the maker of defective airbags which exploded and claimed the lives of 22 people and set off a worldwide recall of nearly 100 million airbag inflators.  In January 2017, Takata pled guilty to wire fraud and agreed to pay $1 billion in criminal penalties stemming from the company’s fraudulent conduct in relation to sales of defective airbag inflators. The criminal action also resulted in three high-level Takata executives pleading guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy charges. The awards to the whistleblowers were the first ever made under the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act, a federal whistleblower-reward program.  Read more here.
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