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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.

January 16, 2015

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase Bank, Citi, and Wells Fargo Bank agreed to pay $2.7M million and undertake obligations to facilitate the repair of defective property titles, resolving claims they violated Massachusetts foreclosure law and the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act by illegally foreclosing upon Massachusetts residents’ homes when the banks lacked the legal authority to do so. MA

January 14, 2015

Office Depot agreed to pay $68.5M to settle charges in violated the California False Claims Act by allegedly overcharging more than 1,000 cities, counties, school districts and other government entities in California for office supplies. According to the government, Office Depot was required to but did not provide these government entities the lowest prices it was offering other government purchasers. The allegations originated with a whistleblower lawsuit filed by former Office Depot employee David Sherwin. Corporate Crime Reporter

January 14, 2015

A New Jersey court has ordered New Jersey Youth Club, Inc. (NJYC), a Newark-based organization that claims to help underprivileged New Jersey youths, to temporarily cease seeking door-to-door solicitations and temporarily frozen its assets in connection with an action filed on behalf of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. The government claims the organization violated the Charitable Registration and Investigation Act and regulations, as well as the Consumer Fraud Act, by soliciting for contributions although it is not registered as a charitable organization in New Jersey, and by making misleading and untruthful statements while soliciting donations. NJ

January 12, 2015

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced an agreement with Excellus Health Plan, Inc. requiring that its contracted health care providers issue refunds to thousands of members in New York State for charging excessive copays. The investigation began when an Excellus member complained to the Attorney General’s Health Care Bureau Helpline that his provider billed him a specialty care co-payment of $25 after visiting his primary care physician to whom he had already paid the primary care co-payment of $15. NY

January 9, 2015

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a settlement with Encore Capital Group, Inc., a major debt buyer, for bringing improper debt collection actions against thousands of New York consumers. According the state, Encore sued New York consumers and obtained uncontested default judgments against consumers who failed to respond to the lawsuits, even though the underlying claims were untimely under New York law. Under the settlement, Encore will seek to vacate more than 4,500 improperly obtained judgments totaling nearly $18 million. Encore will also reform its debt collection practices and pay civil penalties and costs in the amount of $675,000. NY

January 7, 2015

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that Florida, along with California, Colorado, Kentucky, and Ohio and the federal government, entered a $22 million national settlement with DaVita Healthcare Partners, Inc., one of the leading providers of dialysis services in the US. The settlement resolves allegations originating in a whistleblower lawsuit that DaVita paid illegal kickbacks to induce the referral of patients to its dialysis clinics, causing false claims to be submitted to the Medicaid program. DaVita will pay Florida $5.6 million in restitution and other recoveries. FL

January 7, 2015

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, along with eight other attorneys general, announced a settlement with Nevada-based online retailer Zappos.com, Inc. to resolve allegations that Zappos placed consumers’ personal data at risk by allegedly failing to protect financial information during a data breach that occurred in 2012. Zappos has agreed to pay $106,000 to the states and must take certain actions intended to better protect consumers’ information. FL

January 6, 2015

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced Massachusetts retail electricity supplier Just Energy Group Inc. agreed to pay $4 million to settle allegations of deceptive marketing and sales that promised savings but charged significantly higher rates, entered consumers into agreements without their consent, and charged costly termination fees. MA

December 30, 2014

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced Verizon New England Inc. paid more than $1.3 million to resolve allegations it overcharged the Commonwealth for telecommunications services under a statewide procurement contract. The settlement also requires Verizon to make additional payment offers to Commonwealth towns and cities and other related entities impacted by the alleged overbilling. The settlement resulted from a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the state’s False Claims Act. MA

December 23, 2014

Environmental services company National Water Main Cleaning Co. agreed to pay more than $650,000 to resolve claims it violated the Massachusetts False Claims Act by submitting false bills and records on multiple public contracts for sewer, storage tank and catch basin cleaning, maintenance and repair, and illegally discharged sewage and wastewater. The complaint also alleges the company violated the Massachusetts Clean Waters Act by discharging sewage and wastewater into the waters of the Commonwealth without a valid permit. MA
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