‘Meritless’ whistleblower suits are under attack

By The Record | Jan 28, 2019

Football fans will tell you that not every whistle blown or flag thrown by a referee represents a genuine infraction of the rules. Some calls are reviewed and overturned. Fans will also tell you that obvious violations are sometimes not seen by the officials, or even ignored. (Just ask a New Orleans Saints fan.)

The same could be said of qui tam lawsuits filed under the federal False Claims Act. No doubt there are companies making false claims against the federal government and getting away with fraud because no one’s blowing the whistle on them. Others are exposed by someone who discovers fraud and files a meritorious suit.

On the other hand, some such suits may be illegitimate, in which case the whistleblowers and their lawyers are attempting to perpetrate a fraud by abusing the FCA in the hopes of securing a substantial percentage of the funds “recovered” from a falsely accused company.

Such would seem to be the case with the series of qui tam lawsuits filed by Texas attorney Mark Lanier, et al. against major healthcare companies. Unfortunately for Lanier, someone has blown the whistle on him: the federal government.

After spending hundreds of hours investigating allegations of kickbacks and finding none, the U.S. Department of Justice asked federal judges to dismiss the meritless suits filed by Lanier and other attorneys on behalf of Health Choice Group and other shell companies.

Outraged by this turn of events and anxious not to lose a shot at another justice jackpot, Lanier and his colleagues are protesting loudly, arguing that the government “has created an alternate universe where good is bad, the innocent are guilty, and the perpetrators of fraud suddenly become the victim.”

The federal judges considering the government’s request for dismissal should respond to Lanier’s objections with the contempt it deserves, recognize the government as the real whistleblower in this case, toss the suit, and take judicial action against those believed to be accountable for the fraud.

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