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The CFTC Encourages Whistleblowers to Report Information Involving Commodities Fraud

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The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC” or “Commission”) may not be as familiar as it’s more well known counterpart, the Securities and Exchange Commission, but the agency nonetheless serves an equally vital function by ensuring stability and confidence in the derivatives markets. One of the ways the Commission maintains the integrity of the markets is by actively soliciting the public for information involving commodities fraud through its whistleblower program.

The Creation and Expansion of the CFTC

The passage of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Act in 1974 substantially amended the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”) and led to the creation the CFTC.  The Commission’s predecessor, the Commodity Exchange Authority, was limited to regulating only the agricultural commodities specifically enumerated in the Commodity Exchange Act. By expanding the definition of “commodity” to include transactions in futures and options in United States markets, as well as “any other board of trade, exchange, or market,” the regulatory authority of the newly-created CFTC was significantly expanded.

Today, the CFTC operates as an independent agency of the United States government that regulates and oversees domestic derivatives markets, including commodity futures, options and swaps markets. According to its mission statement, the Commission’s fundamental objective is to “promote the integrity, resilience, and vibrancy of the U.S. derivatives markets through sound regulation.”

Since the 1970s, futures and options markets have expanded to include the trading of futures and options for many non-agricultural commodities, such as oil and gold, as well as financial instruments, including foreign currencies, stock indices, and Treasury debt instruments. The markets under the CFTC’s regulatory authority are significant because of their financial size and importance — trades in these markets amount to billions of dollars annually. Following the financial crisis of 2008, Congress authorized the Commission to regulate and reform the swaps market, another class of derivatives comprised of over-the-counter trading of custom contracts between private parties.

Commodities, Derivatives & Swaps

A commodity is a basic good for which there is demand, but is interchangeable with another commodity of the same type. In other words, there are no practical differences between two or more producers of the same commodity. Examples of commodities include beef, gold, corn and coal. The definition of commodities has expanded over time to apply to additional products including, most recently, certain cryptocurrencies. In 2014, the CFTC first stated its position that virtual currencies are a “commodity” subject to regulatory oversight pursuant to the CEA.

A derivative is a financial instrument, the value of which is based on one or more underlying assets. In practical application, a derivative is a contract between two parties with specific conditions that define the terms by which payments are made. The most common types of derivatives are forwards, futures, options, and swaps. The most common underlying assets are commodities, stocks, bonds, interest rates, and currencies.

A swap is a derivative contract that was first introduced in the late 1980s. A swap between two parties involves the exchange of agreed-upon cash flows of two financial instruments. The cash flows are usually based on a predetermined nominal value, referred to as the notional principal amount. Unlike most standardized options and futures contracts, swaps are not exchange-traded instruments. Rather, they are customized contracts traded in the over-the-counter market between private parties. Since swaps take place on the over-the-counter market, there is always the potential for default by a counterparty.

The CFTC Whistleblower Program

The CFTC whistleblower program was created as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”). Dodd-Frank was enacted in 2010 in response to the financial crisis of 2008, the Bernie Madoff scandal, and other highly-publicized financial frauds. Section 748 of Dodd-Frank amended the CEA by adding Section 23, entitled “Commodity Whistleblower Incentives and Protection.

Section 23 of the CEA, 7 U.S.C. § 26, authorizes the CFTC to issue monetary awards to whistleblowers who voluntarily report original information involving violations of the CEA. The information must lead to a successful enforcement action resulting in the recovery of monetary sanctions exceeding $1 million, or a related action. A “related action” is one brought by certain government entities based on the same original information provided by the whistleblower that resulted in the successful CFTC enforcement action. An eligible whistleblower can receive an award of between 10% and 30% of the monetary sanctions collected in either the CFTC action or a related action.

Since its inception in 2011, the CFTC whistleblower program has recovered more than $800 million in monetary sanctions, and awarded over $100 million to whistleblowers who provided original information or analysis that led to those successful recoveries. In the last two fiscal years, the CFTC awarded over $90 million to whistleblowers, an amount which represents 88% of the total sum awarded to whistleblowers since the program’s inception.  The sharp increase in the monetary amount of the awards illustrates the Commission’s increased reliance on, and commitment to, whistleblowers.

The CFTC’s Whistleblower Office has actively promoted educational and outreach campaigns designed to reach potential whistleblowers through various means, including speeches, web postings, as well as appearances at seminars, conferences and industry trade shows. In May 2019, the Whistleblower Office started issuing “CFTC Whistleblower Alerts” which cover trending topics and issues on which the Commission has focused its recent investigative and enforcement efforts.

Spoofing and Market Manipulation

The CFTC’s latest Whistleblower Alert, issued in January 2020, deals with a disruptive trading practice known as “spoofing.” In its Interpretive Guidance and Policy Statement on Disruptive Practices, the CFTC explained that a violation of section 4c(a)(5)(C) of the CEA “occurs when the trader intends to cancel a bid or offer before execution.” Additionally, the prohibition against spoofing “covers bid and offer activity on all products traded on all registered entities . . . .”

The Interpretative Guidance lists certain types of disruptive conduct which the CFTC deems to constitute spoofing:

(i) submitting or cancelling bids or offers to overload the quotation system of a registered entity;
(ii) submitting or cancelling bids or offers to delay another person’s execution of trades;
(iii) submitting or cancelling multiple bids or offers to create an appearance of false market depth; and
(iv) submitting or canceling bids or offers with intent to create artificial price movements upwards or downwards.

The Commission further explained that a person must act with a degree of scienter beyond recklessness to violate the prohibition against spoofing in section 4c(a)(5)(C) of the CEA. In a similar context involving a violation of SEC Rule 10b-5, the United State Supreme Court defined scienter as “a mental state embracing intent to deceive, manipulate, or defraud.” Ernst and Ernst v. Hochfelder, 425 U.S. 185, 193-94 n.12 (1976).

The CFTC Recovers the Largest Monetary Penalty for Spoofing in History

In November 2019, the CFTC issued an order which included factual findings and the imposition of remedial sanctions against Tower Research Capital LLC (“TRC”), a proprietary financial services firm engaged in futures trading. For a period of at least twenty-one months, the Commission alleged that three TRC traders (“Traders”) engaged in a scheme whereby they placed orders they wanted filled on one side of the market (the “Real Orders”) while also placing orders on the opposite side of the market which they intended to cancel from the outset (the “Spoof Orders”).

Once the Traders received a full or partial fill of their Real Orders, they proceeded to cancel their Spoof Orders, which they allegedly never intended to complete in the first place. Through their actions, the Traders allegedly intended to send false signals to the market that they actually planned to buy or sell the contracts contained in the Spoof Orders. In furtherance of the alleged scheme, the CFTC claimed the Traders broke down larger orders into several smaller, randomly-sized orders in an attempt to camouflage their scheme from others in the market.

According to the CFTC, the ultimate objective of the Traders’ manipulative scheme was to induce other market participants to trade against the Real Orders. As an added benefit, the Traders anticipated the market would react by filling the Real Orders more quickly, at more favorable prices, or in larger quantities than usual. The CFTC alleged the Traders intended to create or exacerbate an order book imbalance, thereby creating a false impression of supply or demand in the market. Thus, the Commission charged that the Traders knew their Spoof Orders would create the false appearance of market depth and induce participants to make trades based on the misleading market activity created by the Spoof Orders.

The CFTC charged TRC with violations section 6(c)(1) of the CEA, 7 U.S.C. § 9(1), and Regulation 180.1(a)(1) and (3), 17 C.F.R. § 180.1(a)(1),(3), which make it is unlawful to intentionally or recklessly “(1) [u]se or employ, or attempt to use or employ, any manipulative device, scheme, or artifice to defraud;” or “(3) [e]ngage or attempt to engage, in any act, practice, or course of business, which operates or would operate as a fraud or deceit upon any person,” in connection with any contract for future delivery on or subject to the rules of a registered entity.

Based on the cited provisions, the CFTC charged that the Traders “employed a manipulative and deceptive scheme” when they placed the Spoof Orders with the intent to create the false appearance of market depth. By virtue of section 2(a)(1)(B) of the CEA, 7 U.S.C. § 2(a)(1)(B), and Regulation 1.2, 17 C.F.R. § l.2, TRC was liable for the alleged fraudulent conduct of the Traders because they acted within the scope of their employment with TRC while engaged in the prohibited conduct.

In order to settle the Commission’s charges, TRC agreed to, among other things, pay: (i) restitution of $32,593,849; (ii) a civil monetary penalty of $24,400,000; and (iii) disgorgement of $10,500,000. These amounts totaled a record-setting penalty of $67.4 million for a spoofing case.

The Importance of Legal Representation for Whistleblowers

The CFTC Whistleblower Program, as well as other those of other government agencies (e.g. the SEC and IRS), provide a process through which individuals can directly report fraud against the government without the assistance of a lawyer. However, if a whistleblower intends to file anonymously, the SEC and IRS whistleblower programs both require that he or she be represented by an attorney. In contrast, the CFTC allows an unrepresented whistleblower to proceed anonymously through the entire process.

While it may be tempting to “go it alone,” a whistleblower without legal representation faces a number of pitfalls that could preclude them from receiving an award, even after providing vital information and assistance that led to a successful recovery. In order to remain eligible for an award, the rules and procedures of a government agency’s whistleblower program must be followed closely. For example, there are strict deadlines for filing objections to a decision concerning an agency’s reliance on the information provided by the whistleblower, or the amount awarded following a successful recovery.

While every government agency protects the identity of a whistleblower to the fullest extent possible, a targeted company can sometimes still surmise the identity of a whistleblower. If, after learning of a whistleblower’s identity, a company retaliates against that person, the company may be subject to separate liability based on statutory protections that provide specific legal and equitable remedies for anyone subjected to their employer’s reprisals.

The experienced attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell provide skilled assistance throughout the entire process of filing a whistleblower claim, beginning with a thorough review of evidence and the drafting of a submission designed to persuade the agency to undertake an investigation. If there is a successful recovery based on information provided, our whistleblower attorneys will monitor the notices posted on the agency’s website to ensure that a claim for an award is filed within the narrow time frame prescribed by agency rules.

McEldrew Young Purtell attorneys also evaluate the amount of an award to ensure it accurately reflects the significance of the information provided and the level of cooperation given during the agency’s investigation. If an award doesn’t fairly reflect the whistleblower’s contributions, we use the appeal process and work to secure a more just result. For a free, no obligation consultation, call McEldrew Young Purtell’s whistleblower attorneys at (215) 367-5151, or you can submit your information through the contact form on this website.

Retailing Giants Ending Sales of Inclined Infant Sleepers as CPSC Study Links Product to Over 73 Deaths

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After the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning in late October 2019 that inclined infant sleepers led to over 73 infant deaths, major retailers are finally responding and pulling these products from their shelves.

Consumer Reports urged retailers in an open letter they sent to 14 different retailing giants, including Amazon, eBay, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Kohls, that they pull these products from their stores in order to keep consumers safe.

Too many retailers had been skirting the issue by continuing to stock products intended for “snoozing,” “napping,” or “resting,” and Consumer Reports stressed that “It is not enough for the products to specify that they are not to be used for ‘prolonged’ sleep … any kind of inclined sleeping position poses risks to infants.”

The CPSC commissioned the biomechanical research to be led by Erin M. Manned, Ph.D., whose study found that “none of the inclined sleep products that were tested and evaluated as part of the study are safe for infant sleep.”

Which Inclined Sleeper Products Were Causing Infant Deaths?

With over 1,108 incidents reported to the CPSC so far, these types of sleepers have been sold at big-box retailers since 2014, and multiple brands and products have been facing recalls.

These include:

The Fisher Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper pictured above

Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleepers: These were recalled in April 2019 after a CPSC study links the product to over 30 infant deaths over 10 years. About 4.7 million sleepers were eventually impacted by the recall.

Fisher Price Ultra Lite Day & Night Play Yards: Shortly after the first recall, Fisher Price recalled approximately 71,000 inclined sleeper accessories for their Ultra-Lite Day & Night Play Yards.

Kids II Rocking Sleepers: These infant sleepers were also recalled shortly after Fisher Price, with their product being linked to five infant deaths since their 2012 launch. These recalled affected approximately 694,000 units.

Dorel Juvenile Group USA’s Bassinets: Dorel had manufactured multiple infant sleepers sold under the Disney and Eddie Bauer brand names. In July 2019 the Eddie Bauer Slumber and Soothe Rock Bassinet and Disney Baby Doze and Dream Bassinet we both recalled affecting about 24,000 units.

SwaddleMe By Your Bed: Only recalled in January 2020, By Your Bed recalled almost 46,300 bassinets that caused similar issues as other recalled beds.

What About These Inclined Sleepers Is Causing Infant Deaths?

The deaths caused by these inclined sleepers is linked to a number of factors but ultimately the research identified carbon dioxide rebreathing, asphyxiation, and suffocation as causes of death.

Parents.com was able to speak to Dr. Mannen who performed the CPSC study identified a couple scenarios that infants were facing:

Suffocation Due to CO2 Rebreathing: The low breathability of certain materials (even mesh) located to the sides of the infants face can lead to carbon dioxide rebreathing which is a large risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Babies Rolling on Their Stomachs: In more than 20 of the cases studies the infants had been found on their tummies, and once they are in a stomach down position, they lacked the strength to push themselves into a new position which could lead to suffocation.

Positional Asphyxia In Standard Sitting Positions: In addition to the dangers of a child rolling over, even without rolling, infants were at risk of potential asphyxiation as the heavy head of an infant has a tendency to fall forward due to the steep angle of these inclined sleepers.

Legal Assistance Is Available For The Families Of Inclined Infant Sleeper Victims

If you or a loved one’s child was harmed after being placed in a Fisher-Price inclined infant sleeper or another brand of infant sleeper don’t hesitate to call our lawyers at McEldrew Young Purtell directly at 1-800-590-4116 to learn how we can help you.

If your child has been harmed while sleeping, resting or playing in one of these devices, please don’t blame yourself. You purchased a baby item in good faith, believing it was safe for your child to rest there.

Now it’s time to explore your legal options to determine whether you’d like to pursue legal action against the manufacturer that produced an unsafe product. Please speak with our Pennsylvania Fisher Price Rock n Play law firm today about your options.

Five Killed and 60 Hospitalized After Tragic Pennsylvania Turnpike Crash

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A tragic accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike early Sunday morning left five dead and over 60 injured when a passenger bus with Z&D Tour Inc. lost control around a turn and set off a chain-reaction which involved three tractor-trailers and a passenger vehicle.

Police say that the bus was not able to get around a particularly tight turn, went up an embankment and flipped between the exits for New Stanton and Breezewood.  This set off a chain reaction which led to the horrific amount of injuries sustained, in what the spokesman for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Carl DeFebo called “the worst accident in his decades-long tenure with the turnpike.”. 

UPS confirmed that two of their drivers were killed in the accident:

Sadly, UPS confirms the identities of two of our drivers who are victims of this tragic incident. Daniel Kepner, age 53, had 5 years of service, and, Dennis Kehler, age 48, had 28 years of service. Both were driving together in a tractor-trailer vehicle out of our Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, operating center. Our drivers will be missed and our thoughts and prayers go out to their families. This is all of the information available at this time,”

FedEx and Z&D Tour Inc. have so far declined to comment beyond that they are cooperating with authorities.

Trucking Accidents in Pennsylvania Cause Serious Injuries

There are thousands of fatal accidents each year caused by trucks and tractor-trailers, and sadly Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of trucking accidents in the US. Victims overloaded local hospitals and staff, having prepared for mass casualty plans, were able to handle the influx of victims, and provide the necessary treatment for their injuries.

Multiple patients had to be treated at Allegheny Health Network’s Forbes Hospital for neurosurgical issues, abdominal injuries, brain bleeds, contusions, and fractures from this Sunday’s accident, and staff from Forbes reported that their training for such an event had paid off.

Trucking accidents can cause serious injuries compared to standard vehicles, and almost 98% of the time a collision occurs between a large truck and a passenger vehicle the passenger sustains catastrophic injuries.

What or Who Exactly Caused The Tractor-Trailer Crash on The PA Turnpike?

While the bus from Z&D Tour Inc. has been identified as the first car in the crash, authorities have yet to determine what exactly caused the pile-up, and they say it can take weeks or months to determine.  While the weather can certainly be a factor, it’s still too early too determine whether it is a factor.

The bus that initially flipped was heading from Chinatown in New York City to Cincinnati.  

Finding The Right Attorney If You Or A Loved One Has Been In A Tractor Trailer Accident

With the severity of injuries that trucking accidents cause to passenger vehicles, it’s important that you make sure your medical costs immediately after the accident, and following the accident are covered.  

At McEldrew Young Purtell, we understand the complexities that are associated with these catastrophic accidents, and we provide comprehensive counsel to those who have suffered injuries due to trucking or multi-vehicle accidents.  Our team can take care of all types of serious and catastrophic injury claims, including brain or spinal cord injury, broken bones, burns, paralysis, and amputation or loss of limb and remove the stress from your family to help you focus on recovering from your injuries.

 McEldrew Young Purtell has won over $200,000,000 for our clients in various personal injury cases, and our team has worked directly with dozens of trucking cases involving commercial vehicles.

We take a vested interest in your case and you won’t pay a dime unless we win.  In many cases, we can advance the expenses necessary to help you find treatment and work with medical experts in order to properly diagnose your injuries, and how they’ll impact your life going forward.

Don’t hesitate to contact our team or call us directly at 1-800-590-4116 to speak directly to our team.

 

TEVA Agrees to Pay $54 Million to Settle McEldrew Young False Claims Act Qui Tam Whistleblower Lawsuit

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Attorney Eric. L. Young announced today that Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., Teva Neuroscience, Inc., and Teva Sales and Marketing, Inc. (hereinafter collectively referred to as “TEVA”) have settled allegations in a qui tam complaint filed by McEldrew Young, Attorneys-at-Law, and co-counsel, Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP (“SFMS”), on behalf of two relators, Charles Arnstein and Hossam Senousy, both of whom previously worked as sales representatives for TEVA.

The allegations in the qui tam complaint focused on a scheme to induce physicians to write prescriptions for the drugs Copaxone and Azilect by paying them as “speakers” or “consultants,” when, in reality, many of the programs at issue were sham events. As a result of TEVA’s allegedly illegal payments, the physicians prescribed Copaxone, which treats relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, and Azilect, which treats symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and influenced other prescribers to do the same.

According to the complaint, physicians who participated in the alleged sham speaker programs wrote prescriptions for the two drugs that were filled at pharmacies across the country.  After filling and dispensing the prescriptions, the pharmacies then submitted claims for reimbursement to various government-funded health care programs.  The pharmacies’ claims resulted in payments by the government for prescriptions that were allegedly induced through fraud, i.e., TEVA’s alleged illegal payments to physicians who wrote the prescriptions.  Since TEVA’s actions allegedly caused the submission of false claims to the government via the dispensing pharmacies, those actions constituted violations of the False Claims Act (“FCA”), 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733.

The complaint also alleged violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”), 42 U.S.C. § 1320a -7b, which, among other things, criminalizes “knowingly or willingly” offering or paying a person “remuneration,” in the form of  kickbacks, bribes, or rebates, to “induce” that person to “recommend” the purchase of a drug covered by a “Federal health care program.” 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b(b)(2).  Simply stated, the AKS prohibits a pharmaceutical manufacturer from offering, directly or indirectly, any remuneration to induce a physician to prescribe, or a Medicare patient to purchase, that manufacturer’s drugs.

The AKS was amended in 2010 to explicitly state that “a claim that includes items and services resulting from a violation of [the AKS] constitutes a false or fraudulent claim for purposes of [the FCA].”  42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b(g). Thus, a claim submitted to a government-funded health care program for a prescription drug in violation of the AKS also constitutes a violation of the FCA.  The 2010 amendments also reduced the standard for “intent” under the AKS, such that “a person need not have actual knowledge of [the AKS] or specific intent to commit a violation of [the AKS].”  42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b(h).

Background

McEldrew Young and SFMS filed the original qui tam complaint on behalf of the relators in May 2013.  The complaint alleged that, beginning in 2003, TEVA provided bogus honoraria or speaking fees to physicians for participation in numerous sham speaker programs in connection with the drugs Azilect and Copaxone.

On November 18, 2014, the United States, along with the various state and municipal governments that were also named as plaintiffs in the complaint, notified the Court of their decision to decline intervention in the case.  On March 12, 2015, the Court issued an Order unsealing the complaint while confirming that the various governments had declined to intervene in the action.

Despite the governments’ decision against intervention, McEldrew Young and SFMS were not deterred in prosecuting the case on behalf of their clients, as well as the federal, state and municipal governments that suffered damages as a result of TEVA’s allegedly illegal practices. “Although we were faced with an adversary of disproportionate size and considerably greater resources, we remained steadfast and aggressively prosecuted the case based on our belief in our clients and the correctness of our position,” said Eric Young, managing partner of McEldrew Young’s whistleblower practice. McEldrew Young and SFMS were assisted during litigation by co-counsel David J. Caputo and Joseph Trautwein of Youman & Caputo, LLC, and Heidi A. Wendel of Heidi Wendel Law.

Summary Judgment Motion

On February 27, 2019, Chief U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon issued a Memorandum Decision and Order denying TEVA’s motion for summary judgment in its entirety.  In a detailed, seventy-page opinion, Judge McMahon rejected numerous arguments asserted by TEVA and ruled that all allegations of TEVA’s FCA violations would proceed to trial on the merits, which was scheduled to start on August 19, 2019.

In dismissing TEVA’s assertion that the AKS required evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement, the Court found that the relators’ complaint raised a genuine issue of material fact as to whether TEVA had violated the AKS.  The Court also ruled that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding the efficacy of TEVA’s compliance program.  Although TEVA’s written compliance polices had “all of the right language,” the Court noted that the existence of those policies had no bearing on whether TEVA actually adhered to them.

Settlement of Complaint Allegations

“This settlement helps ensure that when a physician chooses a prescription drug for his or her patient, that choice will be motivated solely by the best interests of the patient and not tainted by any improper financial considerations,” said Eric Young.  Mr. Young added, “We were inspired by the level of our clients’ commitment to hold TEVA accountable for its alleged misconduct.  Today’s result is also a victory for American taxpayers who are the ultimate victims when unscrupulous individuals and companies defraud the government, oftentimes with impunity.”

As the managing partner of McEldrew Young’s whistleblower practice, Eric Young has a distinguished track record of success.  Mr. Young has recovered more than $2 billion dollars for the government on behalf of his whistleblower clients. McEldrew Young represents whistleblowers from across the country and abroad.  Many whistleblower cases are brought under the False Claims Act, which allows a private individual, known as a relator, to file a lawsuit on behalf of the United States government against an individual or company that has perpetrated a fraud against the government.  If a relator successfully recovers funds on behalf of the government, he or she may receive a reward of up to twenty-five percent (25%) of the civil monetary recovery if the government intervenes, and up to thirty percent (30%) if the government declines to intervene, such as in this case.

Case citation: United States ex rel. Arnstein and Senousy v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., No. 1:13-cv-03702-CM-OTW (S.D.N.Y.)

Retina Institute Settles with Government for $6.65 Million Over Allegations of False Claims Act Violations

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On October 2, 2019, Retina Institute of California Medical Group (RIC), along with its former CEO and several physicians, agreed to pay $6.65 million to resolve allegations of False Claims Act violations. RIC is a medical partnership of ophthalmologists with multiple locations in California. The medical group was alleged to have defrauded government health care programs by billing for unnecessary exams, improperly waiving Medicare copayments, and other regulatory violations. Eric Young, managing partner of McEldrew Young Purtell’s whistleblower practice, worked on the case with attorneys from the law firm of Berger Montague.

The case, United States ex rel. Smith and Rogers v. Chang, No. 13-CV-3772-DMG (C.D. Cal.), was filed in May 2013. The complaint was unsealed in July 2016 after the government elected not to intervene in the case. The two Relators were both former employees of RIC who provided substantial documentation to support allegations in the complaint. Bobette Smith was the CEO of the practice group from June 2012 to January 2013, and Susan Rogers worked as the manager of the billing department over the same six month period. The allegations in the complaint were based on information discovered by the Relators during the course of their employment, as well as their personal observations and investigation into what they believed to be fraud against the federal government and the State of California.

Routine Waiver of Medicare Deductibles and Copayments Can Result in False Claims Act Violations

Medical service providers are required to collect copayments and deductibles from all Medicare beneficiaries, except in specific cases of financial hardship. Any incentive that generates improper referrals, particularly where a medical service provider offers free or discounted items or services to Medicare beneficiaries, or promotes overutilization of medical services can constitute the submission of false claims to the federal government. Thus, a service provider that routinely waives cost-sharing amounts for Medicare beneficiaries, but bills Medicare for the full allowable amount, can be face substantial penalties under the False Claims Act.

The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services set forth detailed guidance on this issue back in 1994:

“Routine waiver of deductibles and copayments by charge-based providers, practitioners or suppliers is unlawful because it results in (1) false claims, (2) violations of the anti-kickback statute, and (3) excessive utilization of items and services paid for by Medicare.

*  *  *  *

A provider, practitioner or supplier who routinely waives Medicare copayments or deductibles is misstating its actual charge. For example, if a supplier claims that its charge for a piece of equipment is $100, but routinely waives the copayment, the actual charge is $80. Medicare should be paying 80 percent of $80 (or $64), rather than 80 percent of $100 (or $80). As a result of the supplier’s misrepresentation, the Medicare program is paying $16 more than it should for this item.

In certain cases, a provider, practitioner or supplier who routinely waives Medicare copayments or deductibles also could be held liable under the Medicare and Medicaid anti-kickback statute . . . When providers, practitioners or suppliers forgive financial obligations for reasons other than genuine financial hardship of the particular patient, they may be unlawfully inducing that patient to purchase items or services from them.

One important exception to the prohibition against waiving copayments and deductibles is that providers, practitioners or suppliers may forgive the copayment in consideration of a particular patient’s financial hardship. This hardship exception, however, must not be used routinely; it should be used occasionally to address the special financial needs of a particular patient. Except in such special cases, a good faith effort to collect deductibles and copayments must be made. Otherwise, claims submitted to Medicare may violate the statutes discussed above and other provisions of the law.”

Retina Institute’s Alleged Systematic Waiver of Medicare Copayments and Deductibles

According the allegations in the complaint, the defendants attempted to induce referrals by routinely waiving Medicare copayments and deductibles for patients without properly investigating or documenting their financial status. In order to disguise the practice, the defendants sometimes allegedly had patients complete a financial hardship form; however, most deductible and copayment waivers were allegedly granted without the completed form. On those limited occasions when the form was used, patients often signed the forms, allegedly without providing any information regarding their financial status.

A ophthalmologist who maintained a general practice near one of RIC’s locations allegedly told an RIC ophthalmologist he expected that copays for Medicare patients to be waived, and that he would not refer patients if copays were not waived. The Relators had records which identified the patients who were referred to RIC by this particular ophthalmologist. The documents showed the receipts for those patients amounted to only 80% of the Medicare allowable amount. Without consideration of financial hardship or any documents to verify such designations, the copayments for these patients were allegedly waived as a matter of course.

Relators independently investigated several patients whose records indicated a financial hardship waiver. They discovered that some of those patients lived in expensive homes, including one residence valued in the millions of dollars.

The Relators each separately explained to Dr. Tom Chang, one of RIC’s physician/owners, that the policy and practice of routinely waiving Medicare copays and deductibles did not comply with Medicare regulations. Dr. Chang allegedly responded, on more than one occasion, that he would prefer to continue using the financial hardship waivers to ensure that RCI did not lose any referrals or patients. Dr. Chang allegedly said he would simply pay the fines if Medicare ever learned about the practice. In light of his former position as a Medicare compliance officer for the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, Dr. Chang’s alleged comments and lack of concern are quite noteworthy.

Relator Smith made several attempts to advise RIC’s partners about changing the manner in which financial hardship cases were handled. She even made a presentation to the RIC senior management team and Executive Committee warning of the potential adverse consequences of continuing with the current practice. During the presentation, Dr. Chang allegedly repeated that he would pay the fines if Medicare ever discovered the way in which RCI handled the waivers.

The History and Purpose of the Anti-Kickback Statute

The Anti-Kickback Statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b(b) (“AKS”), prohibits any person or entity from offering, making, soliciting, or accepting remuneration, in cash or in kind, directly or indirectly, to induce or reward any person for purchasing, ordering, or recommending or arranging for the purchasing or ordering of federally-funded medical goods or services. The statute was enacted in 1972 to address concerns that remuneration provided to those who influence health care decisions would result in services that were medically unnecessary, of poor quality, or harmful to a vulnerable patient population. Congress therefore passed the AKS to prohibit the payment of kickbacks in any form. The statute was amended in 1977, and again in 1987, to ensure that kickbacks could not be disguised as legitimate transactions to circumvent the law.

Retina Institute’s Alleged Violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute

A physician who refers a patient for medical services to an entity in which the physician has a financial interest violates the AKS unless the referral falls within the “safe harbor” regulations.

The physician defendants named in the complaint had financial ownership interests in an ambulatory surgery center known as the San Gabriel Surgery Center. Those physician defendants, as well as other RIC physicians, routinely referred RIC patients in need of surgery to the San Gabriel Surgery Center.  Such referrals would only be covered by the safe harbor regulations if the physician’s investment interest was fully disclosed to the patient.

According to the allegations in the complaint, RIC physicians did not advise their patients that RIC principals had an investment interest in the San Gabriel Surgery Center.  Patients were allegedly given a brochure instead that stated, “The ownership for San Gabriel Ambulatory Surgery Center may be obtained by contacting the center at (626) 300 – [XXXX].”

In order to ascertain whether accurate information was disseminated, Relator Smith asked the scheduling agent at RIC to call the phone number on the brochure to learn who owned the surgery center. The scheduling agent allegedly reported to Relator Smith that the individuals who responded to the call could not provide any information about the ownership of the center nor could they find anyone who could answer the question.

The Government Relies on the Assistance of Whistleblowers

This case illustrates the important role that whistleblowers play in identifying and reporting fraud.  Due to the enormity of claims processed under government-funded health care programs, it is impossible for every instance of fraud to be detected.  Employees are often in the best position to observe fraud and gather evidence to corroborate their observations. The government depends on such individuals to come forward and report what they reasonably believe to be fraud.

The False Claims Act permits a private individual to sue on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery. The government may intervene in the action, in which case a Relator may receive a reward of 15 percent to 25 percent of any monetary recovery.  In cases such as this one, where the government declines to intervene, the whistleblower may pursue the action on their own and can receive a reward of 25 percent to 30 percent of any monetary recovery.

If you have evidence of fraud being committed against the government by an employer, business competitor or contractor, call the experienced whistleblower attorneys McEldrew Young Purtell at (215) 367-5151 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

DOJ Aggressively Pursues Health Care Fraud in 2019

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In the first half of 2019, the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has shown that it intends to aggressively pursue health care providers who engage in fraudulent schemes to enrich themselves at the expense of their patients and American taxpayers. The DOJ has been especially diligent in its investigation and prosecution of health care providers who receive kickbacks and other improper incentives, as well as those on the other side of the transaction who make the illegal payments.

Recent DOJ Settlements Involving Health Care Providers

A review of the 2019 DOJ press release headlines offers insight into the scope and pervasiveness of illegal practices that some health care providers allegedly engage in:

  • Avanti Hospitals LLC, and Its Owners Agree to Pay $8.1 Million to Settle Allegations of Making Illegal Payments in Exchange for Referrals – January 28, 2019
  • Pathology Laboratory Agrees to Pay $63.5 Million for Providing Illegal Inducements to Referring Physicians – January 30, 2019
  • Covidien to Pay Over $17 Million to The United States for Allegedly Providing Illegal Remuneration in the Form of Practice and Market Development Support to Physicians – March 11, 2019
  • MedStar Health to Pay U.S. $35 Million to Resolve Allegations that it Paid Kickbacks to a Cardiology Group in Exchange for Referrals – March 21, 2019
  • United States Files Lawsuit Against West Virginia Hospital, Its Management Company, and Its CEO Based on Kickbacks and Other Improper Payments to Physicians – March 25, 2019
  • Former CEO of Hospital Chain to Pay $3.46 Million to Resolve False Billing and Kickback Allegations – April 30, 2019
  • Pharmaceutical Company Agrees to Pay $17.5 Million to Resolve Allegations of Kickbacks to Medicare Patients and Physicians – April 30, 2019
  • Rialto Capital Management and Current Owner of Indiana Hospital to Pay $3.6 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations Arising from Kickbacks to Referring Physicians – June 3, 2019

The DOJ’s Arsenal in the Fight Against Health Care Fraud

Three statutes are most often implicated in fraud and abuses cases involving health care providers are the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733 (“FCA”); the Anti-Kickback Statute 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b(b) (“AKS”); and the Physician Self-Referral Law, 42 U.S.C. § 1395nn (commonly known as the “Stark Law”).

The False Claims Act

The federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733, authorizes a private individual, known as a “relator,” to bring a cause of action on behalf of the federal government to recover funds lost because of fraud or other misconduct. A lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act is known as a qui tam action, and it allows a relator to sue on behalf of the government and, if successful, receive a percentage of the recovery.

The FCA was signed into law by President Lincoln during the Civil War. It was originally intended as means to legally pursue unscrupulous contractors who defrauded the Union Army by selling inferior goods, such as sawdust mixed with gunpowder, crippled horses, and boots made of cardboard. Even today, the FCA remains one of the most effective and important tools to prevent the government from purchasing overpriced, inferior, or nonexistent goods or services.

Most FCA violations in the health care industry arise from the submission of false or fraudulent claims for payment to government-funded health care programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, CHAMPVA, and TRICARE. The civil penalties for violations of the FCA can be substantial. The filing of false claims can result in fines of up to three times the amount of the government’s losses, plus a penalty ranging from $11,463 to $22,927 for each false claim submitted. If a health care provider submits a claim to the government that resulted from a kickback or Stark law violation, it can also render the claim false or fraudulent.  This, in turn, creates liability under the FCA, in addition to liability under the AKS or Stark law. Some examples of FCA violations involving health care providers can be found here.

The FCA’s whistleblower provision allows a relator to file a lawsuit on behalf of the United States. If the government makes a successful recovery based on original information provided by a whistleblower, the whistleblower may be entitled to a reward of 15 to 30% of the government’s recovery.

The Anti-Kickback Statute

The Anti-Kickback Statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b(b), prohibits offering, paying, soliciting, or receiving “remuneration” to induce referrals of items or services covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and other federally-funded health care programs. The AKS is a criminal law that involves any item or service payable by a federal health care program (e.g., drugs, supplies, or health care services for Medicare or Medicaid patients). “Remuneration” includes anything of value and can include items other than cash, such as free rent, expensive hotel stays and meals, and excessive compensation for medical directorships or consulting services.

In certain sectors of the economy, a reward given to someone for a business referral is a commonly accepted and legal practice. However, compensation paid to someone for a referral involving a federal health care program is a crime. The AKS applies to both those who offer or pay remuneration as well as those who solicit or receive remuneration. Since an AKS violation can result in criminal liability, the intent of each party to the transaction is a critical element to determining culpability.

United States v. Greber, 760 F.2d 68 (3rd Cir. 1985) is a landmark case which held that paying a referring physician to use a laboratory’s services, even if the remuneration was compensation for professional services, was a violation of the AKS. Greber was a physician who was board certified in cardiology. Greber’s company, Cardio-Med, Inc., provided diagnostic services, some of which were billed to Medicare. The government eventually charged Greber with, inter alia, Medicare fraud in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1395nn(b)(2)(B). The charges were based on Cardio-Med’s practice of paying kickbacks from Medicare funds to referring physicians in order to obtain future referrals. Greber claimed that the payments were for work performed by physicians, and future referrals were only one purpose of the payments. Greber was convicted, and he appealed. The Third Circuit affirmed the conviction, holding that a payment to a referring physician is illegal if it is done to encourage future referrals, even if the payment is compensatory. 760 F.2d at 72.

The policy reasons underlying the AKS are based on the premise that kickbacks exploit the health care system, drive up costs for medical services, and impede fair competition in the industry. Kickbacks can also result in patient steering, which can compromise the decision-making process of health care providers and institutions. Hospitals that participate in the Medicare program, or other federally-sponsored health care programs, are required to enter into contracts in which they agree to comply with federal laws and regulations, including the AKS.

Although the AKS is a criminal statute, it provides both criminal and civil penalties for violations. The criminal penalties can include fines of up to $25,000 and five years’ imprisonment for each violation. The Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services can pursue civil penalties of up to $50,000 per violation plus three times the amount of sustained by the government.

The Physician Self-Referral Law

The Physician Self-Referral Law or Stark Law, 42 U.S.C. § 1395nn, prohibits a physician from referring patients for certain “designated health services” payable by Medicare to an entity with which the physician, or his or her immediate family member, has a financial relationship, unless one of a number of specific exceptions applies. A financial relationship can include ownership or investment interests, or compensation arrangements between a physician, or immediate family, and an entity that furnishes designated health services.

Designated health services include:

  • Clinical laboratory services;
  • Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and outpatient speech-language pathology services;
  • Radiology and certain other imaging services;
  • Radiation therapy services and supplies;
  • DME and supplies;
  • Parenteral and enteral nutrients, equipment, and supplies;
  • Prosthetics, orthotics, and prosthetic devices and supplies;
  • Home health services;
  • Outpatient prescription drugs; and
  • Inpatient and outpatient hospital services.

The Stark law is a strict liability statute, which means that a physician does not have to possess the specific intent to violate the law. Much like the AKS, the Stark Law is intended to ensure that a physician’s medical judgment is based only on the best interests of the patient and is not swayed by improper financial incentives.

Penalties for Stark law violations can include:

  • Denial of payment – Medicare will not pay for designated health services that were provided pursuant to a prohibited referral.
  • Refund of payment – Any entity that collects payment for designated health services that were provided pursuant to a prohibited referral must refund all such payments.
  • Imposition of civil monetary penalties – a civil monetary penalty of up to $15,000 can be imposed for each prohibited service, as well as additional civil assessments and potential liability under the False Claims Act.
  • Exclusion from federal health care programs — Physicians and entities can be excluded from participation in government-sponsored health care programs.

The Necessity of Whistleblowers

The government lacks the resources to identify and prosecute every instance of fraud carried out by unscrupulous physicians, medical equipment providers or hospitals. Many settlements and successful verdicts reported by the DOJ are often based on information provided by a whistleblower willing to come forward after hearing or witnessing some type of improper conduct. In the health care sector, a whistleblower is often a current or ex-business partner, a hospital or office staff member, a patient, or a business competitor.

Anyone who is an “original source” of information involving fraud against the government can be a whistleblower. As defined in the False Claims Act, original source means “an individual who either (i) prior to a public disclosure . . . has voluntarily disclosed to the Government the information on which allegations or transactions in a claim are based, or (2) who has knowledge that is independent of and materially adds to the publicly disclosed allegations or transactions, and who has voluntarily provided the information to the Government before filing an action under this section.” 31 U.S.C. § 3730(e)(4)(B).

There are many pitfalls to filing a whistleblower claim with a government department or agency. Without proper legal representation, a whistleblower might not receive a reward even though he or she provided information and assisted the government in the investigation that resulted in a successful recovery. The attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell have a proven track record of success in all types of whistleblower cases. If you have evidence of a fraudulent scheme involving a health care provider or facility, or any other type of fraud against the government, the attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell will provide a free confidential review of your evidence and recommend the best course of action. For a no obligation consultation, call Eric L. Young or Paul Shehadi at (215) 367-5151 or you can submit your information through the contact form found on most pages of this site.

McEldrew Young Purtell Whistleblower Lawsuit Against INSYS Results in $225 Million Settlement of Allegations Involving Opioid Sales and Marketing Abuses

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INSYS Agrees to Global Resolution of Claims Arising from Separate DOJ Criminal and Civil Investigations

The Department of Justice announced that INSYS Therapeutics, Inc. (“INSYS”) has agreed to pay $225 million to resolve allegations that it paid kickbacks and engaged in other illegal marketing tactics to promote sales of its fentanyl spray, Subsys. According to the terms of the settlement, INSYS will pay a criminal fine of $2 million and forfeit $28 million. The pharmaceutical manufacturer will also pay $195 million to settle civil claims based on allegations in five different qui tam lawsuits filed by separate relators.

McEldrew Young Purtell represents one of the five relators, a former INSYS sales representative who became concerned as the drug manufacturer continually pushed the boundaries of its marketing tactics to boost sales of its powerful opioid painkiller. In 2016, McEldrew Young Purtell filed a complaint under seal on behalf the relator in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. The complaint included allegations that INSYS promoted Subsys for various off-label, or unapproved, uses including musculoskeletal pain, fibromyalgia, neck pain, and back pain, despite the fact that the FDA only approved the drug for the management of breakthrough cancer pain.

Allegations of Improper Dosing Instructions and Meddling with Insurance Authorizations

INSYS management allegedly directed its sales representatives to encourage physicians to prescribe Subsys for continuous use, rather than only as needed, and to start new patients at twice the starting dose permitted by the FDA-approved label. Sales representatives were also allegedly instructed to complete prior authorization forms on behalf of the patient or physician. They also provided physicians with an appeal letter template that would be filled out if patients could not obtain prior authorization from their insurer.

The TIRF REMS Access Program

INSYS allegedly employed other less subtle tactics to remove certain “obstacles” purposely set in place to control distribution of the dangerous class of fentanyl-based painkillers, such as Subsys. For example, the FDA requires that physicians and pharmacists enroll in a program known as the TIRF REMS (Transmucosal Immediate Release Fentanyl – Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy) Access Program. The program was designed to reduce the risks of misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose and serious complications due to medication errors with the use of TIRF medicines. Prescribers and pharmacists must study educational materials and pass an online knowledge assessment exam is order to obtain certification.

In an effort to increase the number of prescribers in the TIRF REMS Access Program, INSYS sales representatives allegedly provided physicians with cheat sheets that contained all the correct answers to the knowledge assessment exam. The practice of distributing the test answers was allegedly considered commonplace among sales representatives. Physicians who allegedly received the cheat sheets could easily circumvent the educational requirement of the program which was intended to ensure that they had sufficient information to make informed risk-benefit decisions prior to starting a patient on a TIRF drug.

Allegations of Sham Speaker Programs and Other Physician Incentives

Much like a number of other pharmaceutical manufacturers, INSYS utilized “speaker programs,” which were purportedly intended to be educational programs through which physicians were paid to present medical information to their colleagues at lunch and dinner events. It was alleged that these events were, in reality, sham programs whose only purpose was to pay doctors and pharmacists to convince their peers to prescribe Subsys for various off-label uses.

According to allegations in the case, many of the speaking events were held at inappropriate locations, such as noisy restaurants and strip clubs, and were nothing more than a pretense to provide attendees with free food, alcohol, and monetary compensation. The alleged payment of bribes and kickbacks to attending prescribers was designed as a way to increase the number of Subsys prescriptions written, as well as the dosage of those prescriptions. Many physician-speakers allegedly received compensation without ever having provided any educational content whatsoever at these events.

Another form of illegal kickbacks allegedly involved the use of gift cards. INSYS management allegedly encouraged sales representatives to provide gift cards to physicians as an incentive to continue prescribing Subsys. Sales representatives allegedly employed covert techniques to conceal the details of the transactions involving the purchase of the gift cards. Under one such scheme, an INSYS sales representative would allegedly purchase gift cards at a local food establishment and persuade the store owner to create fraudulent receipts for the value of the purchase price of the gift cards. The doctored receipts would falsely reflect the purchase of coffee and other small food items which could permissibly be given to a physician’s office. The sales representative would allegedly submit the fraudulent receipts for reimbursement by INSYS and then directly give the gift cards as a form of illegal and untraceable kickbacks to the physicians who prescribed Subsys.

The Rochester Connection

As the manufacturer of Subsys, INSYS was only the first link in the chain of bad actors who allegedly put profit ahead of preventable harm to thousands of vulnerable patients. Rochester Drug Cooperative (“RDC”), the sixth largest distributor of pharmaceutical products in the country, was charged as a corporate entity with conspiring to distribute drugs, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and failing to file suspicious order reports.

Last month, the CEO of RDC signed a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (“DPA”) in connection with the pending charges against the company. Under the DPA and a related consent decree, RDC agreed to: 1) accept responsibility for its conduct by making admissions and stipulating to the accuracy of an extensive statement of facts; 2) pay a $20 million penalty; 3) reform and enhance its Controlled Substances Act compliance program; and 4) submit to supervision by an independent monitor. If RDC remains compliant with the DPA, the government will defer prosecution and seek to dismiss the charges after five years.

The recent charges against RDC stem from a two-year investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) after RDC violated the terms of a prior civil settlement. The disclosure of the prior investigation and resulting civil settlement came to light after RDC’s former CEO, Laurence Doud III, filed a lawsuit against the company last year. In the suit against RDC, Doud claims he was fired so that RDC could shift responsibility to him for the recent DEA criminal investigation.

Mr. Doud and RDC’s former chief compliance officer were both recently charged with conspiring to distribute drugs and defrauding the government. The indictments mark the first time that federal criminal charges have been brought against company executives for conspiring to illegally distribute opioids

Linden Care Specialty Pharmacy

In his lawsuit against RDC, Mr. Doud also alleged that two members of RDC’s executive team defamed him by asserting that he and BelHealth Investment Partners had an improper financial relationship. BelHealth Investment Partners is a private equity firm that acquired Linden Care LLC (“Linden Care”), a company that ran a now-defunct specialty pharmacy based in Woodbury, New York.

The recent investigation by the DEA was based, in part, on the inaccurate reporting, or lack of reporting, of pharmaceutical sales between RDC and Linden Care. Prior to going out of business, it is believed that Linden Care was one of the largest, if not the largest, distributors of Subsys in the nation.

McEldrew Young Purtell’s initial investigation of the allegations against INSYS identified the critical role that Linden Care played as the leading dispenser of Subsys throughout the country. The complaint filed by McEldrew Young Purtell on behalf of its client was the only one to name Linden Care as a defendant in the INSYS qui tam lawsuit. Although the case against INSYS has settled, McEldrew Young Purtell’s suit against Linden Care and Belhealth Partners is currently pending before the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

The False Claims Act

The INSYS case demonstrates the importance of whistleblowers in identifying and reporting fraud. Fraud against the government takes many forms, and employees and contractors are often in the best position to detect and report such conduct. The government simply doesn’t have the resources to identify and prosecute every instance of fraud. Consequently, many unscrupulous actors continue to defraud the government, and American taxpayers, for years without detection or prosecution.

The False Claims Act provides a monetary incentive to whistleblowers who provide original information. If the government makes a monetary recovery based on the information provided, a whistleblower can receive between 15 and 30 percent of the recovery. The False Claims Act also contains provisions that protect a whistleblower from retaliation by an employer.

If you have information about fraud against the government, the experienced attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell can assist with all aspects of the process, from investigating your claim, filing a complaint, and successful recovery of a reward.

What Are Common Dental Injuries Sustained from Car Accidents?

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Car accidents are one of the leading causes of traumatic injury in the nation. Even in less serious crashes, victims can be left with lasting symbols that impact the quality of their lives. A type of injury not commonly thought of when they think of car crashes are dental injuries. People that suffer from dental injuries have to deal with the resulting pain and potentially extensive medical bills and related healthcare costs. These costs can seriously harm a family’s financial security, that’s why it’s important to take advantage of personal injury laws to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.

At McEldrew Young Purtell, we’ve handled thousands of car accident cases. We’ll talk you through some of the basic concerns involved in bringing dental injury cases and what steps you can take to improve your legal position after suffering injuries in a car crash.

Types of Dental Injuries Sustained From Car Accidents

Medical Billing Fraud Lawyer

Dental injuries will vary depending on the forces involved in the car crash. They’re normally separated into two categories: direct and indirect injuries.

Direct injuries occur because the mouth is struck by an object, while indirect injuries occur because of the force of the mouth being shut unnaturally, which causes the teeth to be crushed together.

These injury categories can also result in a number of different types of damage to the teeth. There are several common types of dental injuries that result from car crashes:

  • Luxated Tooth: this injury happens when the tooth is loosened, allowing it to move from side to side, it can worsen over time if it is not set in place properly by a dentist
  • Avulsed Tooth: this injury happens when the tooth is knocked out of the mouth, if the tooth is recovered and set in place within two hours there is a chance it can be saved
  • Fractured Tooth: this injury occurs when the tooth breaks either within or outside the gums

Causes of Dental Injuries

The causes of dental injuries are varied. When they occur from a car crash they’re often direct injuries, in which the face strikes objects within the cabin like the wheel and dashboard.  These injuries can become very costly, and so retaining a car accident lawyer in NJ is a necessity.

When speeds are higher the forces involved are stronger and result in more serious injuries. The most common causes of dental injuries from a car crash are:

  • Distracted drivers
  • Texting and driving
  • Blind spot collisions
  • Rear end collisions

In other words, the common causes of dental injuries are also the common causes of most crashes, with crashes with forces directly in front or behind having a greater risk for oral injuries.

Car Accident Dental Injury Lawyers

If you’re involved in a car crash that causes a dental injury it’s important to get medical attention as soon as possible. Timely medical treatment means you have a better chance of recovering quickly, hidden issues can be treated, and the documentation can be used to support your case against the negligent party.

There are serious costs that come with getting that treatment though. Medical bills can quickly add up and become difficult to contend with. That’s why personal injury laws exist to reduce the burden caused by life-altering events and injuries and get families the compensation they deserve for the harm they suffer. However, the negligent parties at fault will work against you to try to limit your payouts.

What should I know about the Fisher Price Rock’n’ Play Sleeper recall?

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If you are a parent, caregiver of a child, grandparent, or guardian and are using a Fisher Price Rock’n’ Play Sleeper, it is in your best interest to stop using it immediately.

 

On April 12th, 2019 Fisher Price officially recalled 4.7 million Rock N’ Play Sleepers.

They also advised parents to cease all use of the sleeper. The reason behind the massive recall is related to at least 32 infant deaths. Before the recall, The American Academy of Pediatrics had encouraged the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, to recall the sleeper product after a Consumer Reports Investigation brought to lit the large number of infant deaths since 2011.

 

Just before the recall of millions of sleepers, the Consumer Reports officially called for a recall of another infant sleeper, the Ingenuity Moonlight, made by Kids II. This was done after at least 4 infants died while using the sleeper.

 

Since the recall, there are Fisher-Price Rock’n’ Play Sleeper defective product lawsuits underway. We, at [law firm name[, are currently investigating cases that involve infant deaths attributed to the Fisher Price Rock’n’ Play Sleeper. If you lost a child, and believe this popular product may have been the cause, we urge you to call us as soon as possible.

 

What You Should Know

 

The Consumer Reports investigation sought advice from doctors and medical experts who suggested infants be placed on their backs and away from any soft bedding, so as to minimize the risk of asphyxiation. To add to this the American Academy of Pediatricians does not advise parents to allow their babies to sleep at an incline, especially while restraining a baby while they rock.

 

The Fisher Price Rock’n’ Play Sleeper has been designed in a way that allows babies to sleep at an inclined position, as the product rocks. The company even marketed the sleeper as being a product that a baby could sleep in all night long.

In addition to this, the CPSC has issued  a warning in the past which asked the consumers of the sleeper to discontinue use as soon as the child turned three months of age, or was exhibiting signs of being able to roll over – whichever came first. Both Fisher Price and the CPSC acknowledged 10 infant deaths, and said they occured after the baby rolled from the back to the stomach. This was not exactly true, according to the Consumer Reports. What the investigation showed was that the babies were younger than three months old. Rolling over was not likely.

 

At this time Fisher Price has stated they are aware of at least 32 infant deaths since the introduction of the sleeper in 2009. However, they also said the infants may have had mental or physical health conditions that attributed to the deaths, or the sleeper was being used in a way that contradicted the manual and it’s warnings.

 

It should be noted the investigation did note in select cases, there may have been other factors to consider. Even so, Consumer Reports found there were enough causes for concern that a recall should occur as soon as possible.

 

At least 4.7 million sleepers have been sold to consumers. They are one of the most popular sleepers on the markets, but should no longer be used as they are not safe for infants or babies of any age. If you or someone you know is using this sleeper, please discontinue its use.

 

If you are one of the parents who tragically lost a child, and you believe the Rock n’ Play Sleeper is the cause, our firm is investigating these cases. We understand what it takes to build a case against a large corporation like Fisher Price and will do our best to get justice for you and all the other families.

 

To learn more about the  Fisher-Price Rock’n’ Play Sleeper defective product lawsuits, call McEldrew Young Purtell.

Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper Defective Product Lawsuits: Are They Right for You?

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The number of Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper Defective Product lawsuits are on the rise, and if your family lost a child after using this defective product, contact us at McEldrew Young Purtell without delay. Our legal team has the experience and resources necessary to successfully fight this corporate subsidiary on behalf of grieving parents. A lawsuit cannot turn back time but it can send a message that a company cannot knowingly sell a product that is harmful to its users. Gross negligence is not acceptable, and taking legal action in the form of lawsuits against the Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper defective product is a way to get justice. A substantial settlement from the manufacturer can also ease the financial burden that families may suffer in the wake of losing a loved one.

 

Contact our office today to learn more about how we might be able to assist your family during this difficult time.

 

How do I file defective product lawsuits against Fisher-Price after their Rock n’ Play Sleeper harmed my child?

 

At least 32 infant deaths are linked to the use of Fisher-Price’s Rock n’ Play Sleeper. The primary issue is that the product allows a child who is capable of rolling over while sleeping to asphyxiate. Product liability laws are intended to protect consumers from dangerous products. When a consumer uses a product in the manner as specified by the manufacturer, and if that product causes harm as a result, the manufacturer may be held liable for the consumer’s damages. McEldrew Young Purtell represents injured victims and surviving family members who lost a loved one in a fatal accident. Call us to schedule a free and confidential case review to learn if you are eligible to file one or more Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper defective product lawsuits against the culpable parties.

 

What is involved in filing lawsuits against Fisher-Price for their Rock n’ Play Sleeper defective product?

 

When McEldrew Young Purtell takes a case representing parents who lost their child due to a defective product, our lawyers will determine who should be held liable. There may be more than one culpable party. After we identify who should be held accountable for our client’s loss, we may do the following:

 

  •         Build a damage claim that includes proof of liability and a detailed accounting of the resulting damages, with an assessed value for each type of damage.
  •         Submit the claim to the responsible party or parties.
  •         If the settlement offer from the responsible party is too low, our attorneys will enter into negotiations with the company to arrive at a fair amount. If the company refuses to negotiate in good faith, McEldrew Young Purtell may initiate a lawsuit against them.
  •         If the client’s case advances to the courtroom, we will argue the case in front of a jury.

If you are considering filing one or more lawsuits against Fisher-Price for their Rock n’ Play Sleeper defective product, contact us at McEldrew Young Purtell to learn how we can help you.

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