False Claims Act and Whistleblower Defense
False Claims Act (FCA) and other whistleblower claims cause major business disruptions and risk irreparable damage to a company. Clients faced with such claims hire us for our experience and track record defeating claims through motions or, if necessary, at trial.
Hueston Hennigan’s team of former prosecutors and veteran litigators brings deep experience and focused creativity to the defense of clients against FCA and whistleblower lawsuits. Our diverse clients include pharmaceutical and health care companies; educational institutions; public entities; financial services firms; and businesses in the technology, manufacturing, and professional services sectors.
Our lawyers have successfully defeated these claims at every stage: prior to going public, terminating cases in their infancy, obtaining dismissal of the claims through dispositive motions, and, when necessary, prevailing on the claims at trial.
With respect to government investigations and claims, we rely on the decades-long relationships we have nurtured with state and federal regulatory agencies and departments, including the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Health and Human Services.
- Representing Tesla in qui tam action asserting FCA violations by more than two dozen automakers, contractors, and subcontractors for alleged violations of U.S. immigration law. Also represented Tesla in related U.S. Attorney’s Office investigation, which resulted in the government declining to intervene in the qui tam action.
- Representing Deloitte in qui tam action asserting FCA violations for allegedly presenting false claims for payment, “reverse false claims,” and conspiracy due to conflicts of interest and other alleged undisclosed financial interests.
- Representing 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. Successfully obtained summary judgment on the vast majority of claims.
- Representing PricewaterhouseCoopers in a lawsuit where a former employee sued PwC and its partners for allegedly taking retaliatory and otherwise improper actions in response to complaints made about PwC’s auditing practices. He brought three whistleblower retaliation claims under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and California law, a defamation claim, a breach of contract claim, and a claim for wrongful termination. We recently secured a partial dismissal of all claims against the individual defendants.
- Won trial for the California State Bar and its former president in an unprecedented lawsuit filed by Joseph Dunn, former state senator and State Bar executive director. 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 State 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.
- Obtained a full dismissal with prejudice of all FCA claims on behalf of the University of California San Francisco in connection with an $80 million FCA lawsuit. The suit alleged 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.
- Successfully demurred to all causes of action and retaliation claims were dismissed with prejudice in defense of the California State Bar, several State Bar employees, and past and present State Bar Board members in a 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. Mr. Layton filed a parallel administrative proceeding, which was dismissed with prejudice on the eve of trial.
- Obtained declination of criminal investigation and dismissal of parallel civil FCA case on behalf of Edwards Lifesciences. False claims allegations related 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 negotiated dismissal of a parallel civil matter without payment of any fine or penalty.
- Obtained declinations of parallel criminal and civil federal FCA investigations on behalf of CEO of medical device manufacturer Masimo. We secured declinations of both investigations without payment of any fine or penalty.
- 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. 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 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.
- Representing officers of DaVita in connection with two FCA investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice.
- Represented officers at Northrop 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.