Feds: we’ve had it with qui tam gamesmanship

“The U.S. Department of Justice is asking federal judges around the country to dismiss lawsuits it says are brought by shell companies that misrepresent their true purposes – filing meritless litigation against health care companies…. The DOJ says these plaintiffs were created for the sole purpose of filing suit under the federal False Claims Act and is complaining that it spent hundreds of hours investigating kickback allegations only to find no merit to them…. Among the law firms representing the plaintiffs in the cases is the firm of prominent personal injury lawyer Mark Lanier of Texas.” [P. David Yates, Legal NewsLine/Forbes]

“Significant to DOJ’s analysis was the fact that the qui tam relators used ‘false pretenses’ to obtain information from witnesses. According to the government, the actions all were filed by a ‘professional relator’ entity that sought to develop contacts and inside information under the guise of conducting a research study of the pharmaceutical industry, and offering to pay individuals for information provided in a purported ‘qualitative research study,’ even though the information was ‘actually being collected for use in qui tam complaints filed by [the professional relator] through its pseudonymous limited liability companies.’…it would be awkward for DOJ to sit idly by and allow qui tam cases to proceed, in the government’s name—which is how the qui tam system works—when those cases are purportedly premised on a scheme one district court already described as involving ethical violations and ‘an elaborate series of falsehoods, misrepresentation, and deceptive conduct.'” [Joe Metro and Andy Bernasconi, Drug and Device Law]

And yet more: “Prominent qui tam lawyers are now questioning the nomination of William Barr as attorney general, citing comments he made nearly 30 years ago questioning the constitutionality of private relators under the FCA. Some of the lawyers who signed a recent letter to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley criticizing Barr, including Harvard Law School Professor Nancy Gertner, participated in litigation against Celgene that the government declined to join but nevertheless generated $280 million in settlements and more than $30 million in legal fees.” [Daniel Fisher, Legal NewsLine/Forbes]

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