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State Enforcement Actions

Each state enforces its laws and defends its interests, and states often work with the federal government in investigating and prosecuting corporate frauds.  Whistleblowers with knowledge of fraud or wrongful conduct that involves state or local funds or programs may be able to bring a claim under a state or local False Claims Act, and may be eligible to receive a monetary reward and protection against retaliation.

Below are summaries of recent settlements, successful prosecutions, and enforcement actions by states. If you believe you have information about fraud which could give rise to a claim under a State or Local False Claims Act or other whistleblower reward provision, please contact us to speak with one of our experienced whistleblower attorneys.

August 1, 2019

The United States has settled with Cisco Systems, Inc. for $8.6 million in the first cybersecurity whistleblower case ever successfully brought under the False Claims Act.  Cisco was accused of selling a video surveillance software to the U.S. government – including the military, FEMA, Homeland Security, and the Secret Service -- that could be easily exploited by hackers, and doing nothing to resolve or report the issue for years after the vulnerability was identified.  AG NY; AG VA

July 25, 2019

Douglas MacKinnon of Buffalo, New York, and associated individuals and entities in the debt collection business, including Northern Resolution Group, LLC, Enhanced Acquisitions LLC, Delray Capital, LLC, and Mark Gray, will pay more than $66 million in restitution and penalties in a settlement reached with New York state and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The companies routinely engaged in unlawful and predatory debt collection practices, including: misrepresenting to consumers that they owed sums they did not owe or were not obligated to pay, or that the companies did not have a legal right to collect; falsely threatening consumers with legal action that the collectors had no intention of taking; and, impersonating law enforcement and other government officials.  The settlement permanently bans MacKinnon and Gray and their defendant companies from the debt collection industry. CFPB, NY

July 22, 2019

Credit reporting company Equifax has agreed to pay up to $700 million to resolve claims related to its 2017 data breach in a global settlement with the FTC, the CFPB, and 50 U.S. states and territories.  The settlement will be entered as a stipulated judgment in civil action pending against Equifax, alleging that Equifax failed to take adequate steps to secure its network and consumer data, despite being warned of network vulnerabilities, resulting in a hack that exposed the private information of almost 150 million people.  The settlement provides that defendant will pay between $300 million and $425 million to compensate affected consumers, in addition to a $100 million penalty to the CFPB and $175 million to the states.  Equifax also agreed to take specified steps to improve information security, subject to review by an independent third party.  FTC; CFPB; AG CA; AG NY; AG PA

July 11, 2019

Reckitt Benckiser Group plc, which marketed and sold the opioid addiction treatment drug Suboxone until 2014 through its then-subsidiary Indivior Inc., will pay a total of $1.4 billion in a global settlement resolving criminal, civil, and administrative claims.  In marketing Suboxone Film, Indivior allegedly made unsupported claims that the drug was less-divertable and less-abusable than other buprenorphine drugs, and steered patients to doctors known to have a history of over-prescribing Suboxone and other opioids.  In addition, Indivior was alleged to have discontinued its tablet Suboxone for pretextual reasons, claiming a concern for pediatric exposure when, in fact, the company was seeking to delay FDA approval of a generic form of tablet Suboxone.  In a non-prosecution agreement, RB Group will forfeit $647 million in proceeds it received from Indivior, will cooperate with ongoing investigations, and will not manufacture or market controlled substances in the U.S. for three years.  In resolution of civil claims with the U.S. and states, including six lawsuits filed by whistleblowers under the False Claims Act, RB Group will pay $700 million to resolve claims that the marketing of Suboxone caused false claims to be submitted to government healthcare programs.  Finally, RB Group has agreed to pay $50 million in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission to resolve claims that it engaged in unfair competition in seeking to impede generic equivalents of Suboxone.  DOJ; USAO W.D.Va.; FTC; VA

July 10, 2019

Overstock.com has been ordered by a Delaware court to pay $7.3 million following a jury verdict against it on claims that the online retailer misrepresented its disposition of abandoned gift card balances to Delaware's revenue agency in order to avoid obligations under the Delaware escheat law, which requires that Delaware-chartered companies turn over unclaimed assets to the state.  The case was brought by whistleblower William Sean French, a former employee of a gift card company, under the Delaware False Claims and Reporting Act. DEL

July 2, 2019

To settle a qui tam suit by a former employee, LexisNexis Risk Solutions and its affiliates have agreed to pay $5.8 million to resolve their liability under the Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Tennessee False Claims Acts.  LexisNexis had signed a contract with law enforcement agencies to access automobile crash reports that they then sold to individuals, insurance companies, and law firms for claims adjustment purposes.  According to the contract, LexisNexis would pay the agencies each time a report was sold; however, it allegedly paid the agencies for the first report only but not for each subsequent report.  AG IL; AG NJ; AG NY

July 1, 2019

Hylan Asset Management, LLC, and its owners, Andrew Shaevel and Joe Purizhansky have been banned from the debt collection industry and ordered to pay $6.75 million.  According to the FTC and the New York Attorney General’s Office, Hylan and its owners knew the debt portfolios they bought and sold contained fake debts, but continued to distribute these portfolios to collection agencies.  FTC; NY AG

May 28, 2019

California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, recovers $1,498,574 in a lawsuit against telemarketing company, Consumer Rights Legal Services (CRLS), and four individuals. President and owner of CRLS, James Davitt, and three others, scammed more than 150 victims by offering phony “investment recovery services” that they said would recover the money that the victims had lost from prior investments. The victims, many of them elderly, had to pay an up-front fee for the fraudulent service. State of California DOJ

May 23, 2019

Sixteen states have reached a settlement with the Medical Informatics Engineering and NoMoreClipboard, LLC, which have agreed to pay $900,000 to resolve allegations that the companies violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), unfair and deceptive practice laws, notice of data breach statutes, and state personal information protection laws. The companies provide patient portals to healthcare providers, enabling patients to access their health records. Hackers allegedly infiltrated the companies' servers in May 2015, stealing the information of more than 3.9 million individuals. A consent judgment with specific compliance agreements was also entered by the court.  FL; NC

May 8, 2019

Cosmetics retailer Sephora USA Inc. paid $159,349 to the State of Indiana to resolve claims brought by a whistleblower under the Indiana False Claims Act alleging that Sephora made false statements in connection with failing to collect sales tax on internet sales shipped to Indiana consumers.  IN AG
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