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Whistleblower lawsuit targets medical companies, professionals for unnecessary spinal surgeries

The U.S. government has intervened in a whistleblower’s False Claims Act lawsuit against a Michigan neurosurgeon, a spinal implant company, two distributors, and the companies’ owners, alleging that the defendants conspired to perform medically unnecessary and excessive surgeries on patients for profit. The Justice Department also said that in addition to taking over the whistleblower lawsuit, it has filed a separate complaint against the same defendants for engaging in an illegal kickback scheme that put profits above patients’ needs. The whistleblower lawsuit was filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act by Dr. Caty Savitch and Dr. ... Read More

Judge allows whistleblower’s False Claims Act lawsuit against Novartis to move forward

A New York federal judge has rejected Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp.’s bid to dismiss a whistleblower lawsuit alleging the company engaged in illegal kickback schemes involving two of its drugs, which resulted in false claims to Medicare and 27 state Medicaid programs. The lawsuit, filed under seal by whistleblower David Kester in 2011, was amended by the U.S. government in January, about nine months after it chose to intervene and take over the case as the U.S. False Claims Act allows it to do. Mr. Kester worked for seven years as an account manager for Novartis, a position that required him ... Read More

Whistleblower accuses Pennsylvania hospital of retaliation and false claims to Medicare

A former employee of Abington Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the hospital alleging she was fired in retaliation for reporting that laboratory technicians were modifying orders for blood work in a way that resulted in the submission of false claims to Medicare for reimbursement. Joanne Cleighton filed the whistleblower lawsuit on Aug. 11 in a Philadelphia federal court, alleging that Abington Memorial suspended her without pay and then fired her for voicing her objections to the alleged false claims despite her 26-year employment with the hospital and “exemplary” work history. The lawsuit states that if ... Read More

Oregon sues Oracle over failed health insurance enrollment system, cites whistleblower tips

The State of Oregon is relying on whistleblower allegations as part of a potential multi-billion-dollar lawsuit it filed against software manufacturer Oracle America and six of its top executives over the state’s failed health insurance exchange website that left state residents without a way to register for health insurance. Oregon contracted with Oracle to develop the state’s health insurance website, which was called Cover Oregon. The website was allegedly so full of glitches that it never launched publicly, leaving the state in a scramble to find, hire, and train hundreds of workers to process health insurance applications by hand. According ... Read More

Long hours, fatigue made deadly Arizona fuel truck crash inevitable, whistleblower says

Arizona officials investigating the deadly August 1 crash of an asphalt oil truck in North Phoenix said that driver fatigue was to blame, and a whistleblower has bolstered those findings with claims that Cactus Transport forces its drivers to work dangerously long driving shifts without a break. Witnesses told investigators that they noticed the oil tanker swerving in the southbound lanes on Interstate 17 just before 5 a.m. The truck then ran onto the median, struck a sign post, and rolled over. The driver of the truck was killed. No other vehicles were involved, but the crash ruptured the tank ... Read More

Feds side with Oregon truck driver whistleblower, order reinstatement and back pay

An Oregon truck driver who filed a whistleblower complaint against her employer alleging she was fired for refusing to drive an unsafe truck will receive back wages and compensation for legal fees in addition to being reinstated to her job, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced. After completing an investigation of the complaint, OSHA ordered Terry Unrein, an independent trucking contractor based in Gresham, Ore., to reinstate the driver, who was fired in late 2011 after she refused to drive a five-ton truck with inadequate tire tread on public highways. According to OSHA, Terry Unrein fired the driver ... Read More

Federal agencies partner up to improve whistleblower protections for commercial drivers

Better oversight of whistleblower protections afforded by the federal Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) is the aim of a memorandum of understanding signed by leaders of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The joint effort will strengthen coordination and cooperation between the two agencies, resulting in better anti-retaliation protections for employees of the commercial truck and bus industries. According to OSHA, the memorandum “allows for the exchange of safety, coercion and retaliation allegations when received by one agency, that fall under the authority of the other.” The STAA shields drivers and ... Read More

Company ordered to reinstate, compensate truck drivers it fired for voicing safety concerns

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered Pontiac, Mich.-based Asphalt Specialists Inc. to pay $1 million in back wages and damages and reinstate a foreman and two truck drivers who were fired after voicing safety concerns. According to OSHA, Asphalt Specialists fired the foreman on June 30, 2012, after he repeatedly raised concerns to the company’s co-owner about being forced to exceed hours-of-service (HOS) rules, which regulate commercial drivers’ periods of work and rest and are intended to mitigate driver fatigue. Company managers “repeatedly failed to allow for the 10-hour rest period mandated by the Department of Transportation,” ... Read More

Whistleblower’s False Claims lawsuit against Samsung leads to $2.3 million settlement

Samsung Electronics America Inc. has agreed to pay $2.3 million to resolve whistleblower allegations that its business practices led the U.S. government to unknowingly purchase foreign electronics from countries not approved under the Trade Agreements Act and thus the submission of false claims for those products. The lawsuit concerns contracts under the federal government’s General Services Administration (GSA), which awards Multiple Award Schedule contracts to multiple companies that provide comparable products and services. Once the GSA negotiates and awards the contract, any federal agency may purchase under it. Generally the Trade Agreements Act requires the U.S. government to buy products made ... Read More

Whistleblower tips prompted closure of Mississippi cancer clinic

Tips from a group of whistleblowers led to the July 2011 closing of a multi-million cancer treatment facility in Summit, Miss., and the prison sentences of its founder and key employees, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported. The Mississippi Health Department shuttered the Rose Cancer Center for its “unsafe infection control practices” after 11 of the clinic’s patients were hospitalized with the same bacterial infection. Subsequent investigations led to the prosecution of Dr. Meera Sachdeva, who started the clinic in 2005 and received 20 years in federal prison for health care fraud and two counts of making false statements. Dr. Sachdeva was ... Read More