BKLW represents whistleblowers throughout the nation in cases arising under the False Claims Act and similar laws.
A “whistleblower” is an individual or corporation that reports fraud or false statements in connection with government programs and grants. The federal government, as well as most states (and some cities) have False Claims Acts (also known as qui tam laws) that encourage whistleblowers (often referred to as “relators”) to file claims to recover damages and penalties resulting from those false claims on behalf of the government. Where those claims are successful, the government shares a portion of the recovery, known as the “relator share” or “bounty,” with the whistleblower. In some cases the relator share can be up to 25-30% of the total recovery.
Whistleblowers are often insiders in a company or industry who know about false claims because of their role as an employee, manager, or auditor. But anyone with knowledge of a false claim can be a whistleblower. Even individuals who are partially responsible for false claims can, in some cases, recover. False Claims Act laws also protect whistleblowers from retaliation.
Whistleblower claims can arise in many different industries, but they often arise in health care, health sciences, the pharmaceutical industry, and military or government contracts. The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has a whistleblower program in which whistleblowers can report potential securities law violations, money laundering, and insider trading. Other agencies, including the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”), also have whistleblower laws. The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) also has a whistleblower program that encourages reporting significant tax fraud or other tax violations and protects whistleblowers.
BKLW has represented whistleblowers in a wide range of industries and has recovered tens of millions of dollars for relators and hundreds of millions of dollars for the government. Representative cases include:
United States of America, et al v. Celgene Corporation (Central District of California). BKLW served as co-lead counsel in a case involving off-label promotion of cancer drugs. BKLW’s client alleged that Celgene illegally promoted two of its drugs for uses that were not approved by the FDA and paid illegal kickbacks to healthcare providers and others in an effort to increase the sales of its drugs. The case resulted in a $280 million settlement – the second largest recovery ever recorded in a non-intervened case brought under the FCA and the largest recovery involving a manufacturer of cancer drugs.
United States ex rel. Elizabeth Valdez v. Aveta, Inc. et. al. (District of Puerto Rico). BKLW represented an executive who filed suit against his employer, alleging that it terminated him as retaliation for speaking out about massive Medicare fraud within the company. BKLW litigated the case for many years in multiple jurisdictions, ultimately obtaining a confidential settlement for the client on the eve of trial.
United States ex rel. Michael Edman v. Ma Laboratories, Inc. et. al. (Central District of California). BKLW recovered substantial damages and attorney’s fees for a whistleblower who filed a qui tam action against computer parts suppliers who conspired to sell Chinese components to the government in violation of the Trade Agreements Act of 1979.
United States ex rel. Maurice Shoe v. North Greenville University, et. al. (District of South Carolina). BKLW obtained a series of multi-million dollar settlements, together with attorney’s fees, on behalf of a whistleblower who identified illegal referral fees and recruiting incentives paid by private Christian colleges in violation of the Higher Education Act.
BKLW has also filed multiple whistleblower cases that are currently under seal. These cases involve claims relating to health care fraud, off-label drug marketing, violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute, fraudulent marketing of precious metals, and similar wrongdoing.
Given the firm’s expertise in this area, BKLW is also sometimes retained to represent defendants in qui tam cases, where we bring a unique perspective based on our years of experience on the plaintiff side of such cases. We also frequently consult and partner with other lawyers who represent potential whistleblowers to help them navigate the specialized world of qui tam actions and other whistleblower claims.