Johnson and Johnson, Walgreens, CVS, Northrup-Grumman, Northwestern Hospital – these are just a few of the defendants that Behn & Wyetzner, Chartered has successfully filed qui tam lawsuits against on behalf of qui tam whistleblowers. A qui tam lawsuit is a type of civil lawsuit that whistleblowers can bring under the False Claims Act.
Through qui tam actions, whistleblowers who report fraud against the government can file an action on behalf of the government and assist the government to investigate and prosecute the fraud. Qui tam whistleblowers have uncovered a wide variety of fraudulent schemes involving Medicare and Medicaid fraud, defense contractor fraud, securities fraud, and government contractor fraud, and under the False Claims Act, the United States has recovered billions of dollars that have been stolen from the U.S. Treasury and taxpayers.
If a False Claims Act whistleblower succeeds in a qui tam lawsuit and recovers funds for the government, the whistleblower is entitled to a whistleblower award under the Act. Whistleblowers receive between 15 and 25% of what they recover for the government, if the government intervenes in the case. If the government doesn’t intervene in the case, the whistleblower award is between 25 and 30% of the recovery.
CVS Caremark Corp. paid $36.7 million to settle allegations by pharmacist-whistleblower Bernard Lisitza that CVS illegally switched prescriptions of ranitidine, the generic form of the brand-name drug Zantac®. Mr. Lisitza is represented by qui tam attorneys, Michael I. Behn and Linda Wyetzner of Behn & Wyetzner, Chartered, in Chicago. Mr. Lisitza’s complaint alleged that CVS improperly caused its pharmacies to switch Medicaid patients’ prescriptions from ranitidine tablets to ranitidine capsules in order to evade Medicaid price limits. Read More.
Johnson & Johnson
Pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson & Johnson paid $149 million to settle allegations that it used illegal kickbacks to market several of its drugs, including Risperdal®. The case was initially brought by pharmacist-whistleblower Bernard Lisitza and was joined by the United States. According to Lisitza and the government, Johnson & Johnson committed Medicaid fraud by paying Omnicare, one of the nation’s largest pharmacies that supply drugs to nursing home patients, kickbacks to dispense Risperdal® and other Johnson & Johnson drugs. Read More.
In early 2009, Leo Burnett paid the federal government $15.5 million to settle a False Claims Act case brought by two whistleblowers represented by Michael I. Behn and Linda Wyetzner of Behn & Wyetzner, Chartered. The False Claims Act complaint alleged that the company overcharged the United States government for the Army’s “Army of One” advertising campaign. The “Army of One” contract was valued at $360 million, making it the Army’s largest advertising contract at that time. The complaint covered work performed between 2000 and 2005. Read More.
In March 2005, Northrop-Grumman Corp. paid $134 million to resolve a False Claims Act lawsuit involving the B-2 “Stealth Bomber.” The case was initiated in 1989 by whistleblowers James Holzrichter and Rex Robinson. Both were employed at Northrop’s Defense Systems Division in Rolling Meadows, Illinois during the Reagan-Bush era defense build-up. The complaint alleged that Northrop overcharged the government and inflated the cost, and misrepresented the progress of, a radar jamming device for the B-2 Stealth Bomber. The United Stated intervened in the case in 2001. Lasting nearly 16 years, this was one of the longest False Claims Act cases litigated. Read More.
Northwestern University paid $2.9 million and a Northwestern physician, Dr. Charles Bennet, paid $475,000 to settle a qui tam case brought by an employee of Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. The qui tam whistleblower was represented by attorney, Linda Wyetzner of Behn & Wyetzner, Chartered. The False Claims Act complaint alleged that Northwestern submitted false claims to the United States when doctors directed and authorized the spending of cancer research grant funds on goods and services that did not meet applicable guidelines promulgated by the National Institute of Health and the Office of Management and Budget. Read More.
In November 2009, Omnicare, Inc., the self-proclaimed “leading provider of pharmaceutical care for the elderly,” paid $98 million to settle charges that the pharmacy committed Medicaid fraud through several kickback schemes. Omnicare has settled two major Medicaid fraud cases brought by pharmacist-whistleblower Bernard Lisitza, who was fired by Omnicare after reporting what he believed to be improper practices at the company. Mr. Lisitza is represented by qui tam attorneys, Michael I. Behn and Linda Wyetzner of Behn & Wyetzner, Chartered, in Chicago. Read More.
In November 2006, Omnicare, Inc. paid $49.5 million to settle Medicaid fraud charges that it illegally switched the drugs of senior citizens in nursing homes and other facilities. The alleged scheme involved some of the most popular generic drugs on the market and was designed to evade Medicaid price limits, known as Federal Upper Limits. Read More.
In April 2008, Walgreens Co. paid $35 million to settle Medicaid fraud charges that it illegally switched prescriptions for ranitidine, the generic form of the brand-name drug Zantac®, and fluoxetine, the generic form of Prozac®. The case was brought by pharmacist-whistleblower Bernard Lisitza, represented by qui tam attorneys, Michael I. Behn and Linda Wyetzner of Behn & Wyetzner, Chartered, in Chicago. Whistleblower Lisitza claimed that Walgreens improperly caused its pharmacies to switch Medicaid patients’ prescriptions from ranitidine tablets to ranitidine capsules, and from fluoxetine capsules to fluoxetine tablets in order to evade Medicaid price limits. Read More.
Quest Diagnostics, Inc., a company operating clinical laboratories throughout the country, agreed to pay nearly $1.8 million to settle a qui tam case brought by Elisa Martinez, a former Quest employee and phlebotomist. Ms. Martinez’s False Claims Act complaint alleged that Quest fraudulently billed Medicare for duplicate blood tests performed on the same patient on the same day. Ms. Martinez was represented by qui tam attorney Michael I. Behn of Behn & Wyetzner, Chartered, and the Hirst Law Group. Read More.