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False Claims Act and Whistleblower Defense

With a team of veteran litigators, prosecutors and attorneys with significant experience defending against False Claims Act and whistleblower litigation, Hueston Hennigan brings both unrivaled skill and expertise to resolving the challenges of clients facing such exposure. Drawing on our long-standing interactions with federal regulatory agencies and departments, including the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services, and numerous U.S. attorney offices and state attorneys general, we are poised to successfully avert charges when possible, but vigorously defend our clients in court when necessary. Similarly, our whistleblower defense experience has achieved outstanding results for our clients, from early dismissal of whistleblower claims to trial verdicts. Hueston Hennigan regularly represents and counsels pharmaceutical, health care, education, public entities, financial services, technology, and defense clients.

Representative Matters

  • Represented several individuals on behalf of the University of California-San Francisco in connection with an $80 million FCA lawsuit involving allegations of kickbacks, medically unnecessary procedures, improper use of sedation nurses, failure to properly supervise fellows/residents, failure to be present during key procedures, and other alleged violations of Medicare regulations. The U.S. Department of Justice declined to intervene, and we obtained a full dismissal with prejudice of all FCA claims.
  • Represented the University of California-San Diego in connection with whistleblower complaints raising FCA and other issues related to Medicare/Medicaid billing for nephrology surgery. We conducted an internal investigation in response to the allegations and recommended compliance program improvements and disciplinary action against culpable personnel. The matter was resolved without government intervention.
  • Represented Edwards Lifesciences following notice from the U.S. Attorney's Office of parallel criminal and civil investigations into false claims allegations relating to Medicare/Medicaid eligibility for a heart catheter product, among other issues. Through an independent investigation and a series of presentations, we reversed the criminal charging decision and subsequently obtained a closure of the investigation without payment of any fine or penalty.
  • Represented the CEO of medical device manufacturer Masimo in parallel FCA civil and criminal health care fraud investigations. We secured declinations of both investigations without payment of any fine or penalty.
  • Represented Eisenhower Medical Center in connection with FCA investigations related to cost reports and submission of bills for a staff physician. Both matters were favorably settled.
  • Represented officers of DaVita in connection with two FCA investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice; one settled in 2014 and the other is ongoing.
  • Represented officers at Northrup Grumman in five FCA investigations, all of which were resolved without any charges against the individual clients or the company.
  • Obtained declinations of numerous Medicare and Medicaid fraud investigations, including on behalf of medical practices, providers of health, nursing and adult care, and ancillary service providers.
  • Represent the State Bar of California ("State Bar"), its Board of Trustees and various employees in high-profile lawsuits brought by its former CEO and several other senior employees. The representation includes several matters:
  • Defended the State Bar and its former President in an unprecedented lawsuit filed by former State Senator and State Bar Executive Director Joseph Dunn. Mr. Dunn alleged that the State Bar and its president retaliated against him and terminated his employment because he blew the whistle on ethical violations within the organization. After successfully demurring to several causes of action, we obtained summary judgment in favor of the former Bar President. After a five-day trial, we obtained a full verdict in favor of the State Bar on all causes of action, including Claimant's Labor Code § 1102.5 Whistleblower Retaliation claim.
  • Defended the State Bar, several State Bar employees, and past and present State Bar Board members in another retaliation lawsuit brought by a former State Bar Public Information Officer, Thomas Layton. Mr. Layton's First Amended Complaint asserted claims for Wrongful Termination (Retaliation), Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy, Defamation, Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, and Violation of Common Law Right to Fair Procedure based on allegations that he was terminated for associating with Mr. Dunn and in retaliation for alleged whistleblowing. Mr. Layton filed a parallel administrative proceeding, which was dismissed with prejudice on the eve of trial. We successfully demurred to all causes of action and the retaliation claims were dismissed with prejudice.
  • Defended the State Bar and several of its former executive officers in a $15 million retaliation lawsuit brought by Sonja Oehler, a former assistant to the State Bar's then-Executive Director Joseph Dunn. We substantially narrowed Ms. Oehler's case when the superior court sustained the State Bar's demurrer in its entirety to Ms. Oehler's causes of action for Wrongful Termination (Retaliation), Intentional and Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, and Fraud.
  • Defended the State Bar and its former Chief Trial Counsel in a whistleblower retaliation suit brought by its former Managing Director of Investigations, John Noonen. Mr. Noonen asserted claims for Labor Code § 1102.5 Whistleblower Retaliation, Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy, Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Defamation, and Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage based on allegations that he was terminated in retaliation for blowing the whistle on alleged improprieties by the State Bar's then Chief Trial Counsel. We substantially narrowed Mr. Noonen's claims when the superior court sustained the State Bar's demurrer to virtually all of Mr. Noonen's claims.
  • Defend the California Institute of Technology in a lawsuit brought by a research scientist, alleging whistleblower retaliation, wrongful termination in violation of public policy, breach of implied covenant of good faith, and tortious interference.