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Successes

Members of the Constantine Cannon Whistleblower Lawyer Team have been responsible for a string of major whistleblower successes over more than a decade, including the following:

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.

Pure Collection – Customs Fraud ($908,100)

Constantine Cannon represented whistleblower Andrew Patrick, who worked for Pure Collection from 2010 to 2014, first as a sales representative in its U.K. call center and then in its U.K. packaging department. Mr. Patrick’s qui tam, or whistleblower, lawsuit alleged that since 2007 the defendants fraudulently and systematically avoided paying U.S. customs duties on its goods shipped from the United Kingdom to customers in the United States. Pure Collection and the e-retailer’s acting CEO, Samantha Harrison, have collectively agreed to a settlement of $908,100 to the U.S. Government. This lawsuit was one of the first to be brought by a U.K. whistleblower in which the U.S. Government intervened and successfully resolved the whistleblower’s False Claims Act allegations. Mr. Patrick will be awarded 18 percent of the total settlement.

Freedom Health, Optimum Healthcare - Medicare Risk Adjustment ($32.5 M)

Two of our whistleblower lawyers led the representation of the late Dr. Darren Sewell, M.D., the former chief medical officer and vice president of special projects for two large health insurers and operators of Medicare managed healthcare insurance plans based in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Sewell brought a qui tam case under the False Claims Act against Freedom, Optimum and Mr. Pagidipati alleging that they improperly gamed a feature of the Medicare Advantage program known as risk adjustment, or risk scoring, by fraudulently inflating their members’ risk scores and the corresponding risk adjustment payments they received from CMS, and that they fraudulently induced CMS to allow them to expand their health insurance offerings into new counties in Florida and the Carolinas by falsely representing that they had a sufficient network of doctors, clinics and hospitals available to serve their enrollees in the expanded service areas when they had no such networks in place. The Government joined the case and in 2017, defendants agreed to pay $32.5 million to settle the matter. The Government and the whistleblower are in the process of negotiating the amount of the relator’s share of the Government’s $32.5 million recovery that Dr. Sewell’s estate will receive. See NPR, DOJ for more.

Bay Sleep Clinic – Medicare Fraud/Unapproved Facilities, Unlicensed Technicians, and Physician Kickbacks ($2.6M).

Constantine Cannon represented whistleblower Elma Dresser, a sleep technician and former Bay Sleep employee. Ms. Dresser alleged that Bay Sleep Clinic and associated businesses, a network of sleep clinics in the San Francisco Bay Area, fraudulently billed Medicare for sleep studies conducted by unlicensed technicians in unapproved locations; improperly dispensed durable medical equipment from unapproved locations using unlicensed technicians; and paid doctors for referrals in violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. The government joined a portion of the case, and in 2016, defendants agreed to pay $2.6 million to settle the matter. For her significant contributions, the relator’s share award was almost 21% of the government’s recovery. See DOJ for more.

Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology – Medicare and Medicaid Fraud ($10.5M).

Two of our whistleblower attorneys led the representation of Linda Gibb and Donna Geraci, former billing specialists at Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology in Long Island, New York. Ms. Geraci and Ms. Gibb brought a qui tam action under the False Claims Act (FCA) against Zwanger-Pesiri, alleging the company defrauded the government by performing unnecessary testing, charging for services not performed, and using uncredentialed physicians. The government joined the case, and in 2016, Zwanger-Pesiri paid $8.1M to settle civil allegations in the FCA case, as well as $2.4M in related criminal forfeiture. Ms. Geraci and Ms. Gibb received a whistleblower award of $1.25M collectively. See DOJ for more.

Roof Systems of Maine – Government Contracting Fraud/Noncompliance with contract requirements ($439,500).

Two of our whistleblower attorneys led the representation of Brian Emery, an experienced roofer and former subcontractor to Roof Systems of Maine. Mr. Emery brought a qui tam action under the False Claims Act against Roof Systems of Maine alleging the company defrauded the government by violating contract requirements and industry standards in roofing and siding work done on behalf of the Departments of the Army and Navy, and the National Guard Bureau. According to the complaint, Roof Systems systematically used inferior products and improper installation techniques at three building sites along the Maine coast. The government joined the case, and in 2016, Roof Systems paid $439,500 to settle the case. Mr. Emery received a whistleblower award of $79,110. See Morning Sentinel for more.

Education Management Corp. - For-profit college student recruitment violations ($80 million)

Education Management Corporation (EDMC), a Pittsburgh-based operator of for-profit educational institutions, agreed to pay more than $80 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit brought by a whistleblower represented by attorneys at Constantine Cannon.   The settlement was the largest settlement to date in an FCA suit involving the U.S. Department of Education.  The whistleblowers, Lynntoya Washington and Michael T. Mahoney, provided extensive evidence that EDMC had for years paid its recruiters incentive compensation based upon how many students they enrolled, regardless of whether the students were suitable candidates, while steadily concealing its illegal practices with repeated false statements to state and federal authorities. Read more here and from the DOJ.

Office Depot — Government Contracting Fraud/Best Pricing ($68.5 million).

One of our whistleblower attorneys led the representation of David Sherwin, a former business manager at Office Depot. Mr. Sherwin brought a qui tam action under the False Claims Act against Office Depot alleging the company overcharged over one thousand California public agencies, including schools, for office supplies. According to the complaint, Office Depot promised its public agency customers Office Depot’s “best” pricing when in fact it charged them millions of dollars more than they would have paid under other, more favorable Office Depot contracts. In addition to representing Mr. Sherwin, one of our attorneys also represented numerous public agencies that joined the case. Office Depot ultimately settled the case for $68.5 million, and Mr. Sherwin’s estate received a whistleblower award of $23 million. See LA Daily News for more.

DaVita — Medicare Fraud/Kickbacks ($400 million).

Two of our whistleblower attorneys led the representation of David Barbetta, a former financial analyst for DaVita HealthCare Partners, one of the largest providers of dialysis services in the United States. Mr. Barbetta brought a qui tam action under the False Claims Act against DaVita alleging the company violated the Anti-Kickback Statute by paying physicians to refer their patients to DaVita clinics for dialysis. According to the complaint, DaVita sold doctors shares of DaVita clinics at below fair market value, and purchased doctors’ interests in other clinics at above fair market value. The government joined the case, and alleged that DaVita had entered into these sweetheart deals with doctors, which gave the doctors returns of over 100%, and the doctors then steered their patients to DaVita clinics. In 2014, DaVita paid $400 million to settle the case, the largest stand-alone kickback settlement ever, and Mr. Barbetta received a whistleblower award of over $65 million. See Denver Post and Modern Healthcare for more.

Rose Cancer Center — Medicare Fraud ($5.7 million).

Two of our whistleblower attorneys co-led the representation of 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, plead guilty to various Medicare fraud violations, forfeited $5.7 million, and is now serving a 20 year prison sentence for her crimes. Ms. Beeson, along with three other whistleblowers, collectively received a whistleblower award of $525,000 for their efforts in exposing the fraud. See Clarion Ledger for more.
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