Beware of Parisitical Qui Tam Whistleblower Websites
When doing research or checking out the web to search for information concerning Qui Tam Law or Whistleblower Law it is very important to know who you are relying on for information, advice and/or representation. There are many sites on the web sponsored by non-lawyers who hope to benefit from your information, risk and experiences by either taking over your information for their own profit and credit or partnering with you as either a co-relator or sponsor to file a False Claims Act or other Qui Tam lawsuit.
These sites are generally created by people or companies, not lawyers or law firms, and, therefore, do not offer you the legal protections of attorney client-privilege, legal experience and ethical and judicial regulations that lawyers are required to follow.
Quite often these parasitical firms or organizations can either reduce your award by getting you to share the award contractually for merely referring you to a lawyer who may or may not have the experience and knowledge to represent you, but who may also have an on gong relationship with that non lawyer “broker”. These “brokers” or referral companies in our opinion are nothing more than parasites who wish to feed off of the risk and knowledge you have and not contributing any risk of their own and very little knowledge to become your partner if there is an award. Do they share the risk if there is not a successful claim? No. Do they share any adverse effect on your career, emotional wellbeing or that of your family? No. Often, you may not get referred to a top lawyer with the experience and knowledge to represent you appropriately — because of an on-going relationship between the broker and lawyer.
These “brokers” or referral companies, in our opinion, are nothing more than parasites who wish to feed off of you. They aren’t taking any risk and have little knowledge about you or the situation and the law that applies to it. Still they are standing by ready to benefit and become your “partner,” should you have a successful claim.
While they don’t share the risk, they do bring risk to your situation. In fact, they risk the success of your claim and how it may be viewed by the Department of Justice or the United States Attorney’s Office, where it’s filed. Savvy judges may recognize these so-called “professional whistleblowers.” When that happens, the value of your case, and certainly its credibility, may be questioned. These “whistleblower” firms are known to the government for what they are and, as such, the courts may look negatively at your association with them. If your credibility depends on theirs, your eventual award may also depend on their reputation. That is a risk you shouldn’t be willing to take.
Case in point: Recently, one of our clients discussed her case with one of these so-called “whistle blowers for whistleblowers” consultants and was referred to a law firm with experience and a fine reputation in the practice of Qui Tam Law. Unfortunately, after much time and effort from our client, she was told that the law firm could not represent her unless she agreed to pay this non-lawyer broker a commission by way of a share in her potential award. This payment would be in addition to any legal fees owed to the firm.
Fortunately, our client had the good sense and judgment to refuse to participate in this questionable arrangement. The client also questioned her lawyer’s loyalty. Was the lawyer more concerned with taking care of the referral broker or her, the client?
In the end, the client retained our firm and is now expecting a major award. She also has the satisfaction of knowing she is helping the United States fight against healthcare fraud, (saving taxpayers millions of dollars), while protecting the safety of the public at large.
Another case in point: Recently, the United States Department of Justice moved in court to dismiss an otherwise successful case against a whistleblower. Even though the case resulted in a substantial financial payment for hundreds of millions of dollars to the government, the whistleblower’s (Relator) case was dismissed. Why? Read on…
The case was reported in an Oct. 1, 2013 Business Week article (printed below.)
Amgen Suit by Alleged Professional Whistle-Blower Dismissed
By Christie Smythe
Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) — Amgen Inc., the world’s largest biotechnology company, won’t have to face a drug-marketing lawsuit brought by a New Jersey doctor whom the U.S. describes as a professional whistleblower.
U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson in Brooklyn, New York, who oversaw Amgen’s $780 million drug misbranding settlement with the U.S. in December, issued an order yesterday throwing out the lawsuit by physician Joseph Piacentile.
Piacentile, who was previously convicted of conspiracy to make false statements in Medicare claims and tax evasion, (…) has filed at least 14 whistle-blower suits, the government said.
He and another plaintiff, former Amgen sales representative Kevin Kilcoyne, rejected a $1.8 million offer to settle their case as part of the government’s agreement with the company, according to Johnson’s order.
“When relators rejected that sum, the government was within its right to determine that further litigation was unlikely to lead to fraud prevention or additional recovery,” Johnson wrote.
Amgen, based in Thousand Oaks, California, pleaded guilty in December to a misdemeanor charge of misbranding its anemia drug Aranesp and agreed to settle whistle-blower suits alleging the company engaged in illegal sales practices regarding other drugs. The company agreed to pay $150 million in criminal penalties and $612 million in civil settlements.
Piacentile said that he declined to settle his case because the government refused to provide specific information about his share of the accord. Although he didn’t work at Amgen, Piacentile claimed he conducted an undercover investigation of the company and collected evidence from top marketing executives.
The case is U.S. ex rel. Piacentile v. Amgen Inc., 2:04- cv-03983, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).
Why did the original relator even need what we view as the parasitical co-relator or broker? Everything that appears to have been done could have been done by a credible and experienced Whistleblower Qui Tam firm. The firm’s fees, which usually are agreed to as contingent See how Whistleblower Attorneys Are Paid would include whatever investigative measures were needed. Additionally, experienced Qui Tam attorneys who work with the government attorneys know the level of investigation pre-suit that would be appreciated by the government. They also know which activities would not be appreciated which may be seen by the Justice Department as overreaching and presumptive actions that taint the evidence or the government’s case.
Why would the government act to dismiss this case? Why would they only be willing to pay a relatively small relator’s share? Why did the Business Week article emphasize that the case was brought by a “professional whistleblower?” The real question is why did the original whistleblower go to a non-lawyer for legal advice on bringing a Qui Tam Claim? Would he do it again?
If you need advice, go to an experienced law firm who represents relators and does not need or believe it appropriate to be the relator. You do not need a co-relator , you need an attorney. We welcome you to call us for a free consultation at 866-627-7052.