Chicago-based aerospace company Boeing recently settled a labor law violations lawsuit in the amount of $23 million. The lawsuit was filed after four present and former Boeing employees acted as whistleblowers, exposing false labor submissions regarding contract maintenance workers. Whistleblower lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm detail this lawsuit and how other employees who suffer labor violations can file similar claims.
In accordance to federal whistleblower laws (also called qui tam laws), each Boeing employee that came forward about the false labor charges will receive about $4 million. This will settle all allegations against Boeing that it submitted false labor charges on maintenance performed by contract workers on its C-17 Globemaster transport aircrafts.
The C-17 Globemaster is a large military airplane developed for the U.S. Air Force. In a statement, Boeing did not admit to committing any wrongdoing but merely a matter of “inadequate charging discipline.” Aside from the $4 million that will be divided up among the whistleblowers, the rest of the settlement will go back to the federal government.
What is a Whistleblower?
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Whistleblowers can be any private citizen who has knowledge of fraudulent practices toward the federal government to sue on behalf of the government. The lawsuits are filed under the False Claims Act, which allows the whistleblower to receive a significantly percentage of the ultimate award or settlement, typically between 15-25%.
Claims submitted under the False Claims Act most commonly involve health care, military, or other government spending program. The pharmaceutical industry drive the largest settlements year in and year out, with whistleblowers expose fraudulent claims made to Medicare and Medicaid. These types of pharmaceutical whistleblower cases typically involve marketing drugs for off-label uses not approved by the FDA.
Perhaps the most famous whistleblower lawsuit of this type involved antidepressant drugs manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. Whistleblowers in that case accused GSK of promoting Paxil, Wellbutrin, Avandia and similar drug for off-label purposes. The company was also charged with failing to disclose critical safety data on these antidepressants, paying physicians to prescribe the drugs, and making false statements about Avandia. GSK was ultimately fined $3 billion for its fraudulent schemes.
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It is important to note that doctors are allowed to prescribe drugs for any purpose, including those not approved by the FDA. This only becomes illegal if the doctor is receiving payments directly from the drug companies for prescribing off-label, or if the companies market drugs for non-approved uses. There are federal laws against this type of marketing, which drug companies routinely ignore.
Other types of Medicare fraud are quite prevalent in nursing homes and other elderly healthcare sectors. These can include billing for services not provided (such as if a nursing home resident on Medicaid is supposed to receive physical therapy sessions and the government is billed, but the resident never actually receives them), billing for higher reimbursement rates, and other similar false claims.
One example of this recently occurred in Illinois, when two former nursing home employees filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the facility. The employees allege that, although many residents were receiving grossly inadequate care, the facility was billing Medicare and Medicaid for above-average services. Employees were also directed to forge patient and medication records to reflect false care. Staffing records were falsified as well, to show minimum staffing levels were met but in fact were not.
Whistleblower lawsuits can also be filed by pharmacies; for example, if an employee witnessed a pharmacist filling a bottle with 100 pills and billing Medicare for that mount, but the gave the patient only 75. That could be considered fraudulent billing against Medicare.
If you have any questions regarding the False Claims Act or whistleblower lawsuits, contact our firm today. We provide free legal consultations to concerned parties in all 50 states, and never charge any attorneys’ fees unless we are successful in your case. Our team ofwhistleblower attorneys has decades in experience in this type of law and are available to chat 7 days a week.