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Johnson & Johnson Admits to Improperly Marketing Prescription Drugs for Unapproved Purposes

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and the company’s subsidiaries will pay more than $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil liability related to allegations that the drug maker promoted the prescription drugs Risperdal, Invega and Natrecor for unapproved uses, and provided kickbacks to physicians and the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacy provider.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the deal on November 4. Holder said J&J improperly marketed Risperdal for treatment of psychotic symptoms in elderly, non-schizophrenic patients. The drug is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only for individuals with schizophrenia. The attorney general also accused J&J of improperly marketing Risperdal and Invega for treatment of dementia. As a result, insurance companies paid for claims they should not have been paying for, according to CNN.com. More Johnson & Johnson Admits to Improperly Marketing Prescription Drugs for Unapproved Purposes

General Motors Extends Deadline for Families of Individuals Killed or Seriously Injured in Vehicles with Defective Ignition Switches

Families of people killed or seriously injured in a car crash involving a General Motors (GM) vehicle affected by a defective key ignition switch will be given an extra month to submit claims to Ken Feinberg, the auto maker’s compensation expert.

Families of individuals killed or serious injured in one of the affected vehicles have until January 31, 2015 to file their claims, Feinberg said Sunday night. The original claim period ran from August 1 through December 31, but was extended, Feinberg said, “out of an abundance of caution,” according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). More General Motors Extends Deadline for Families of Individuals Killed or Seriously Injured in Vehicles with Defective Ignition Switches

Walgreens Facing Allegations that it Overcharges Consumers

The popular Walgreens pharmacy chain is being accused of overcharging customers for copies of their medical records.

In a recent lawsuit, the Deerfield, Illinois-based company is blamed for violating state law by charging a consumer an exorbitant fee for copies of medical records.  Walgreens allegedly charged the man a flat fee of $55 for his records, but state law dictates that companies may only legally charge: More Walgreens Facing Allegations that it Overcharges Consumers

DOJ Joins Whistleblower Lawsuit against Symantec

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has joined a whistleblower lawsuit that claims that computer software giant Symantec overcharged the government and several states by tens of millions of dollars.

The lawsuit alleges that California-based Symantec misrepresented to the General Services Administration the markdowns it was offering commercial customers for its products, the Washington Post reported. Since the government’s price for those software was based on the fraudulent discounts commercial firms received, the government was charged a higher price, according to the lawsuit. More DOJ Joins Whistleblower Lawsuit against Symantec

Thanks to Whistleblower Lawsuits, the Federal Government is set to Collect more than $5 Billion by the end of the Fiscal year

The federal government is set to collect a record of more than $5 billion for contractor-fraud lawsuits. The payout is largely the result of whistleblowers who put their professional reputation at risk to file <em><a href=”http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/qui_tam”>qui tam</a></em> lawsuits.

The $5 billion payout, which is expected to be collected under the federal False Claims Act by the close of fiscal year 2014, is vastly more than the $86 million collected in 1987, when the government decided to increase the amount awarded to whistleblowers in an effort to clamp down on fraud, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.<!–more–>

Only 30 citizens filed cases qui tam in 1987 but in 2013, 753 citizens came forward and their cases comprised 89 percent of U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) fraud cases filed that year. (Qui tam is Latin for “he who sues in this matter for the king, as well as for himself.”) The government has collected $55 billion, including criminal fines, since 1987 and whistleblowers have made more than $4.3 billion, including $388 million in 2013, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

Attorneys say the DOJ opts not to join in on approximately three-quarters of qui tam cases and though every whistleblower puts his job and reputation on the line to speak out against a firm, not every whistleblower gets a payout large enough to transform his or her life, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Some citizens, on the contrary, receive hefty rewards for blowing the whistle on fraud perpetrated inside their workplace. An Alabama nurse received a payout of $15 million in April for reporting alleged fraudulent Medicare billing, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

In 2012, a whistleblower received $14.5 million for reporting allegedly fraudulent loan practices at Countrywide Financial.

Hundreds of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees have come forward in recent months to report lies and cover-ups at the department and dozens of claims in 19 states are being investigated by the Office of Special Council. The VA’s dishonesty has resulted in deaths related to unreasonably long wait times for veterans to see doctors at VA hospitals.

VA whistleblowers have had to contend with threats and harsh retaliation for coming forward. Sloan D. Gibson, acting VA secretary, acknowledged in June that the VA has a history of lashing out against whistleblowers and called the environment of intimidation at the department “absolutely unacceptable.”

Under the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) Whistleblower Protection Program (WPP), whistleblowers are supposed to be protected from harassment and retaliation.  Despite this protection, many whistleblowers say they still face blacklisted in their profession, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

 

 

Pennsylvania Joins Multi-state Settlement with Medtronic

The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office has joined a $2.8 million multi-state and federal settlement with the medical device maker, Medtronic.

The state’s attorney general, Kathleen Kane, made the announcement on Monday, according to the Washington Examiner. More Pennsylvania Joins Multi-state Settlement with Medtronic

Nursing Home Owner and Three Former Employees Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury on Racketeering and Fraud Charges

Four people connected to the shuttered Brian Center nursing home in Scott County, Virginia, have been indicted by a federal grand jury on racketeering and healthcare fraud charges.

The indictment is the result of a joint investigation carried out by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, IRS Criminal Investigations, the Virginia Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, TImesNews.net wrote.

The Brian Center’s former owner was charged with one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of conspiracy to commit wire, mail and healthcare fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud, one count of healthcare fraud, 55 counts of mail fraud, one count of obstruction of justice and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, TimesNews.net reported.

The former director of nursing operations was charged with one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of conspiracy to commit wire, mail and healthcare fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, one count of healthcare fraud and one count of conspiracy to make false statements.

Each racketeering charge carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The money laundering charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to TimesNews.net.

According to Tuesday’s indictment, the four carried out an elaborate scheme aimed at defrauding Medicare and Virginia Medicaid by operating the Brian Center without adequate staff or supplies, which violates federal nursing facility laws, TimesNews.net reported.

The group is also accused of defrauding center vendors and employees. Authorities say employees had money taken from their paychecks for benefits that were not provided, according to TimesNews.net.

Residents of the 90-bed Brian Center nursing home allegedly lived in unsanitary and unclean conditions and were subjected to poor nutrition, bed sores and other forms of neglect. Residents often went without basic hygiene, including bathing, toileting, cleaning, turning and feeding, TimesNews.net reported.

Nursing home residents have a legal right to live in an environment free of physical abuse and neglect. Care centers are required to meet minimum state and federal legislative standards of care to prevent nursing home injury and abuse.

Nursing homes that don’t abide by federal requirements for long-term care facilities as instructed under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (42 CFR Part 483) cannot participate in Medicare or Medicaid programs. Under this “Residents’ Bill of Rights,” certain staffing levels are required to ensure residents’ physical, nutritional, medical and emotional needs are met.

The Brian Center, which made a 2010 list of the worst nursing homes in Virginia, had a long history of compliance problems. The home also once operated as Continuum Care, TimesNews.net reported.

The center closed in 2012 after the federal government took action to terminate the home’s ability to accept Medicare and Medicaid payments, according to TimesNews.net.

Two Wistleblowers Split $875,000 Award

Two people who provided information and assistance to help the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) bring an enforcement action were awarded a whistleblower award of more than $875,000 to be split evenly.

The SEC’s whistleblower program was authorized by the Dodd-Frank Act and rewards top-quality, original information that leads to an SEC enforcement action with sanctions exceeding $1 million, according to CorporateCrimeReporter.com. Whistleblower’s can be awarded anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent of the money collected in a case. More Two Wistleblowers Split $875,000 Award

New York Attorney General Sues Trump for Fraudulent University

New York’s Attorney General filed a civil lawsuit against Donald Trump, accusing him and his profit-making investment “university” of taking part in illegal, fraudulent, and deceptive activity.

The lawsuit, filed by Eric Schneiderman, seeks restitution for people across the country who were tricked into paying for a series of expensive courses that did not deliver on their promises, the New York Times reported. Trump has defended his investment course, claiming that students were 98 percent satisfied with the program.

More New York Attorney General Sues Trump for Fraudulent University

Abbott Sued for Racketeering for Its Off-Label Marketing of Epilepsy Drug Depakote

A lawsuit has been filed against Abbott Laboratories, alleging that the company was involved in racketeering when it marketed the epilepsy drug depakote for unapproved uses.

Last year, Abbott agreed to pay a $1.6 billion to settle a lawsuit charging that it promoted Depakote use to treat bipolar mania and to prevent migraine headaches, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. The settlement featured $800 million to conclude civil claims and a $700 million criminal penalty. The final $100 million was for states to resolve consumer protection matters, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

More Abbott Sued for Racketeering for Its Off-Label Marketing of Epilepsy Drug Depakote