G&E’s False Claims Litigation Group has represented whistleblowers in some of the largest qui tam cases brought under federal, state and municipal False Claims Acts. These cases have been a catalyst for exposing unlawful practices that drain government dollars and place consumers at health and safety risk. Blockbuster recoveries include:
Western District of Virginia
G&E’s efforts on behalf of lead whistleblower, Meredith McCoyd, against Abbott Laboratories, served as a catalyst for a $1.6 billion recovery for federal and state governments. The result marked one of the largest recoveries under the False Claims Act in a pharmaceutical case involving a single drug.
The case was initiated when G&E’s False Claims Litigation Group brought claims in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia on behalf of the U.S. government and more than two dozen states alleging that Abbott had unlawfully marketed its anti-epileptic drug, Depakote, to children and nursing home patients. In addition to a monetary recovery, the settlement broke ground with a corporate integrity agreement that places compliance burdens on Abbott’s corporate management.
District of South Carolina
In a major whistleblower settlement, G&E, working with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s office in South Carolina, reached an agreement with Amgen in which the drug giant paid $24.9 million to resolve claims that it paid kickbacks to long-term care pharmacies so that elderly patients in nursing homes across the nation would be switched to or placed on the company’s drug, Aranesp. The drug, one of the several Erythropoetin stimulating agents (ESAs) on the market, was developed to treat patients with severe anemia whose lives were endangered from receiving frequent blood transfusions. The settlement with the government speaks to the stunning breadth of Amgen’s alleged conduct from September 1, 2003 to December 31, 2011. Specifically, the U.S. alleged that Amgen offered and paid kickbacks to long-term care pharmacy providers for the purpose of inducing them to recommend Aranesp and influence health care providers’ selection and utilization of the drug within the nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and long-term care settings. These kickbacks were paid by Amgen as purported market-share rebates, purported volume-based rebates, grants, honoraria, speaker fees, consulting services, dinners, travel, or purchases of unnecessary data.
District of South Carolina / Western District of North Carolina
G&E’s False Claims Litigation Group played a part in the government’s $25 billion recovery in the winter of 2012 against several of the world’s largest banks. The Firm represented whistleblower Lynn Szymoniak in a lawsuit against mortgage servicers—Bank of America Corporation, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Company, and Citigroup Inc. While Ms. Szymoniak’s allegations and information served to aid in the government’s overall blockbuster recovery, the defendants agreed to pay $95 million to resolve allegations that they participated in a pervasive nationwide practice of failing to obtain required mortgage assignments and using false assignments to submit Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance claims, which resulted in servicing misconduct. G&E worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina, the Offices of Inspector General and legal counsel from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Treasury and Federal Reserve to achieve this settlement.
District of Massachusetts
G&E represented one of several whistleblowers in a case against pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), that resulted in a $1.04 billion recovery for the federal and state governments. Former GSK Therapeutic Sales Manager and nursing professional, Lois Graydon, alleged misrepresentation in promotion of the company’s popular asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) medication, Advair.
Western District of Kentucky, Paducah Division
G&E is lead counsel for whistleblowers Natural Resources Defense Council and several individuals in a case involving a failed cleanup of a government-operated enrichment plant in Kentucky. The U.S. Department of Justice has intervened and the parties are actively litigating the case.
Eastern District of Virginia
G&E’s False Claims Litigation Group represented whistleblower Kurt Bunk in a qui tam action involving allegations of price-fixing and bid-rigging by companies providing moving and storage services for U.S. military service members. The whistleblowers, citizens of Germany, came forward and reported the False Claims Act violations to the U.S. Army in 2002, resulting in criminal convictions and fines for federal antitrust violations for a number of moving companies and at least one individual. A partial settlement of the False Claims Act allegations, totaling $13 million, was reached. The case set precedent for a foreign national to seek relief under the U.S. False Claims Act.
District of Massachusetts
G&E’s False Claims Litigation Group represented whistleblower Glenn Demott who was one of six whistleblowers who revealed information to the government that resulted in an overall $2.3 billion recovery for the federal and state governments.
Western District of Oklahoma
G&E represented two key whistleblowers behind a $257.4 million settlement between drugmaker Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Pfizer, and the U.S. Department of Justice stemming from alleged marketing abuses of Wyeth’s powerful immunosuppressant drug Rapamune. The case was originally brought in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by G&E clients Marlene Sandler and Scott Paris, both of whom were sales representatives for the company. Initially, the case was declined by the Justice Department, but raised the ire of a Congressional oversight committee in 2010.
G&E continued to move forward with the case, and filed an amended complaint on behalf of the whistleblowers on May 24, 2010. On September 21, 2010, the Justice Department intervened in the case and transferred the case to the U.S. the District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, where there was an on-going investigation by the Justice Department and multiple states into abusive marketing practices related to Rapamune. The immunosuppressant, Rapamune, was primarily approved by the FDA to prevent organ rejection following a kidney transplant.
The settlement agreement noted the broad scope of Wyeth’s alleged unlawful marketing of Rapamune for well over a decade, spanning from September 1999 to December 2011, including the knowing promotion of Rapamune for uses that were not approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including for use (1) in connection with solid organ transplant patients other than kidney transplant patients and (2) unapproved treatment regimens, such as for transplant patients who has used another immunosuppressant drug before using Rapamune and the use of Rapamune in combination with certain types of products other than cyclosporine and corticosteroids.
In addition to the civil settlement, the company pled guilty to a violation of the Food Drug and Cosmetics Act and entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The settlement is one of the largest False Claims Act recoveries for a single drug.