ILNews

AG encourages whistleblower lawsuits to fight fraud

August 19, 2010
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The Indiana Attorney General’s Office wants health care and pharmaceutical industry workers to know that they have the ability to file lawsuits and get protection as whistleblowers, and that could mean getting a portion of any settlement or damages that results from the suit.

With Medicare and Medicaid fraud a multi-billion dollar problem nationally, the state’s highest attorney is reaching out to workers who may be impacted by these issues to alert them of their rights as whistleblowers in stopping this type of state and federal fraud.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller is trying to raise public awareness on the topic, which comes as the health care and pharmaceutical industries face sweeping reforms in the coming years and more people are exposed to these scenarios.

“The idea is to persuade workers already concerned about fraud to raise those claims under the False Claims Act,” Zoeller said. “If individuals on the inside are aware of fraud … and reporting it internally has not stopped the fraud, they may be reluctant to come forward for fear of being ostracized from future employment in their chosen profession. While we would hope people would report fraud because that’s the right thing to do, we understand that the potential of a substantial financial reward may be necessary to prompt insiders to come forward.”

The AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is supervising the effort, which involves the False Claims Act that’s existed in federal and state law for years and applies to government contract work. A whistleblower action starts when someone like an employee files a private lawsuit against a provider or company, alleging that business committed fraud on a government contract. That employee-plaintiff basically brings the suit on the government’s behalf, the AG said. If the government wins at trial or reaches a monetary settlement with the provider or company where the fraud occurred, then that whistleblower may receive 15 to 30 percent of the proceeds.

During the past year, the state has been involved in a handful of these whistleblower actions that have alleged billions of dollars in fraud, according to the AG’s Office. Those include suits against Pfizer, Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, and the South Bend mental health services facility called Madison Center. Some causes have been settled while others remain ongoing.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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