The Pennsylvania CPA Journal published a piece by McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt Partner Eric L. Young in its Winter 2017 edition on the changes to the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) Code of Ethics. The new ethics guidelines greatly clarify the steps for accountants to take when they confront suspected noncompliance with laws and regulations (NOCLAR) during the performance of their duties for clients.
We are pleased to announce that James J. McEldrew, III, has been named to the 2017 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers list. Brandon Lauria and Daniel Purtell were named to the 2017 Pennsylvania Rising Stars list published by the same organization.
Eric Young will be featured on a panel discussion tomorrow afternoon in a live program entitled, “CFTC’s Financial Market Reform in 2015: Boon or Bane?”, presented by The Knowledge Group.
SPURRED BY DODD-FRANK, PLAINTIFFS’ BAR DIGS FOR WHISTLEBLOWERS
November 09, 2010 | Westlaw News & Insight
A newly expanded whistleblower program in the Dodd-Frank law has opened a fertile business opportunity for plaintiffs’ lawyers –and sparked a feverish multimedia marketing effort aimed at people in a position to report financial skullduggery to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The new government program, which provides for lucrative payouts to financial whistleblowers and their lawyers, has attracted a wide variety of practitioners — from employment and personal-injury lawyers to class-action specialists — to what traditionally has been a niche practice, known as qui tam, or false claims, law. But clients in this area are hard to find: The new law is still little known, and potential whistleblowers are typically skittish about ratting out bosses and colleagues. So some lawyers are taking client-development to a new level, combining traditional approaches such as emailing newsletters with aggressive use of social media. Dozens of law firms in recent months have established web sites and Facebook pages aimed at publicizing the whistleblower provisions. Others have taken to Twittering or blogging about the new law. Phillips & Cohen, a Washington, DC, law firm that specializes in bringing whistleblower complaints, is one of several firms that have placed ads on Google so the firm’s name shows up among the top results for anyone who does a search for “SEC whistle-blower” and related terms. “The marketing is becoming more competitive and aggressive,” said Phillips & Cohen partner Erika Kelton. In the last couple of months, she said, her firm has received tips about accounting irregularities and companies overcharging for securities, and has filed several claims with the SEC.
“The Qui Tam Team, a new joint venture formed by Pennsylvania law firms Egan Young and L.E. Feldman & Associates, has created a Facebook page that includes links to news articles about whistleblowers and to its own website. The page notes that the Qui Tam Team’s favorite movies are “Michael Clayton” and “The Informant!” both of which, of course, involve whistleblowers.”
Online marketing can be especially fruitful in this field, lawyers say, because prospective whistle-blowers often begin their research about filing claims online. Also, financial whistle-blowing is a relatively arcane subject; lawyers say their first challenge is to educate the public about it, and social media is a good way to share information and interact with potential clients. The new program extends an SEC enforcement scheme that previously covered only alleged insider trading to all manner of financial improprieties, from accounting fraud to misleading investors. Whistleblowers can be awarded up to 30 percent of damages collected over $1m, and their lawyers can collect up to 40 percent of their clients’ take.
‘Opening the door’
The Qui Tam Team, which formed in anticipation of the beefed-up whistleblower program, hasn’t just turned to cyberspace to make connections with potential whistleblower clients. The firm recently assembled a round-table discussion about the Dodd-Frank whistleblower provisions, bringing together an employee benefits administrator, an investment manager, and a consultant to institutional investors. For more than an hour, the lawyers offered tips on how to spot fraud, file claims with the SEC, and perhaps earn big rewards for their effort. “You may be looking at a spreadsheet of a public company and scratching your heads,” said managing partner Eric Young. “You can pick up the phone and call us, and maybe we can make something happen.” The participants, whom Reuters Legal agreed not to identify, seemed intrigued. The investment manager remarked that with Enron’s massive accounting fraud and the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, company insiders may not have had the right incentives to come forward, or a clear means for doing so. “This sounds like a carrot,” he said of the new whistleblower program. “This is opening the door.”
As plaintiffs’ lawyers seek to help would-be whistle-blowers grab those carrots, though, some ethics experts believe the aggressive outreach could be problematic. Rule 7.3(a) of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct bars, with some exceptions, “in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic “communication with a prospective client when the goal is “the lawyer’s pecuniary gain.” Nora Freeman Engstrom, who teaches ethics at Stanford Law School, said some of the marketing that’s emerged in the wake of the new whistle-blower program “is conduct that falls close to the line.” (The SEC last week released 181 pages of proposed rules to implement the whistleblower provisions; the rules do not directly address marketing by plaintiffs’ lawyers, though they note that the agency can discipline or ban lawyers who engage in “unethical or improper professional conduct.”)The Qui Tam Team’s Young said the three participants in the whistleblower roundtable had some prior relationship with the firm, which is one of the exceptions to the no-solicitation rule. Besides, he said, “I don’t think it’s solicitation because we are doing nothing more than educating people that we think might want to come forward with a claim. “Some corporate defense lawyers, meanwhile, have raised concerns that the aggressive marketing by the plaintiffs’ bar could lead to dubious claims by disaffected employees. “Law firms realize that if there is a big pie and somebody gets a 10 to 30 percent share, they share in the bounty,” said Allen Roberts, who co-chairs the corporate compliance practice at Epstein, Becker and Green.
‘High quality’ cases
But the SEC itself does not seem to share that worry. Dozens of new whistleblower claims have reportedly been filed in the last few months, and in an interview with Reuters Legal, Stephen Cohen, senior advisor to SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro, said most of them are “high quality.” While declining to discuss specific law-firm marketing efforts, Cohen said “the communication of the program’s existence is helpful because there may be potential whistleblowers who are not aware of these Dodd-Frank provisions.” Plaintiffs’ lawyers say they are determined to raise public awareness. Manhattan plaintiffs’ lawyer Stuart D. Meissner recently began a Twitter feed about his whistleblower practice, and he’s readying a local billboard campaign. In late September, he launched an in theater advertising campaign during the premier of the film “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” to promote his website www.secsnitch.com. He figured the return of Gordon Gekko would attract a lot of Wall Street-types, any number of whom could be potential whistle-blowers. So far, he said, he has received more than a dozen promising leads. “In this case, the saying ‘greed is good’ has a certain positive twist,” Meissner said. “You can help yourself as well as help society by stopping the next Madoff.”
The Westlaw article was written by and reported on entirely by Brian Grow of Reuters Legal. (Reporting by Brian Grow of Reuters Legal)
© Reprinted with permission from the publisher, Thomson Reuters-GRC, http://accelus.thomsonreuters.com
We Represents Fresenius Whistleblower: Judge Orders Defendant to Pay $82 million
Thursday, 26 May 2011 23:47
Philadelphia, PA, May 26, 2011 – Egan Young, Attorneys-at-Law, has announced that United States District Judge William J. Haynes, Jr., awarded over $82 million to the United States government as the result of a qui tam case filed by Egan Young clients Julie Williams and Dr. John Martinez.(United States ex rel. Williams, et al. v. Renal Care Group, et al. Middle District of Tennessee CA No.: 3:09-00738). Egan Young Managing Partner, Eric L. Young, Esquire, stated that today’s decision resulted from the Court’s imposition of treble damages and statutory penalties pursuant to the False Claim Act in the wake of an earlier judgment against the defendants which totaled more than $19 million.
The case involved fraudulent Method II billing for dialysis patients by Renal Care Group (“RCG”), RCG Supply Company (“RCGSC”) and Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc. as the successor-in-interest to RCG and RCGSC. As previously reported, the qui tam Complaint originally filed by Egan Young’s clients in 2005 alleged that RCG engaged in a multi-state scheme whereby it created a sham supply company, RCGSC, solely to take advantage of higher reimbursement rates paid for home dialysis supplies under the now defunct Medicare Method II billing program.
In upholding his earlier decision, Judge Haynes held that the defendants violated the False Claims Act by creating and operating a sham supplier of home dialysis supplies which resulted in substantial overpayments by Medicare to Renal Care Group, Inc.In doing so, Judge Haynes not only trebled the damages, but imposed statutory penalties at the maximum amount of $11,000 for each false claim submitted.The federal investigation into RCG’s fraudulent billing practices resulted from a qui tam complaint filed by Eric L. Young, Esquire, on behalf of former RCG administrator, Julie Williams, and nephrologist, Dr. John Martinez.
The prosecution of the case was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri under the direction of Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Lay with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee, under the direction of Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Rivera, and Laurie Oberembt and John Henebery from the Department of Justice.
McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt Partner and Railroad Attorney James J. McEldrew, III had his commentary on Positive Train Control published on the Philadelphia Inquirer website today. The article discusses the need for the automated system mandated by Congress in 2008 to be implemented by Amtrak and other railroads to prevent accidents like the one last night. It’s titled “U.S. railroad’s must adopt ‘train control’ now.”
Eric Young was interviewed for the January 16, 2017 edition of the Corporate Crime Reporter on the new auto whistleblower reward program established by Congress in 2015 as part of the FAST Act. With Takata and VW paying large fines to the U.S. Government in the past two weeks, it is a timely read.
PHILADELPHIA – Feb. 26, 2010 – EGAN YOUNG filed a class action lawsuit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on behalf of current and former Sunoco employees alleging violations of the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act of 1968.The case alleges that Sunoco, Inc., a Philadelphia-based company, has failed to pay all wages and overtime owed for approximately 600 of its hourly operations and maintenance employees at the company’s Philadelphia refinery.
Specifically, the complaint alleges that Sunoco fails to compensate hourly refinery employees for work-related activities performed prior to clocking in, and after clocking out.In order to perform the essential duties of their jobs, Plaintiffs are required to; don and doff personal protection equipment; obtain and/or store tools; travel to and from assigned work sites; prepare and clean work equipment; and, engage in required shift change briefings between co-workers.
Plaintiffs’ attorney, Eric L. Young, stated that, “After a thorough investigation, it was evident that Sunoco’s workers were not and presently are not paid for all required pre-operations and post-operations activities that are necessary and integral to their overall employment responsibilities.Through this suit, we intend to make right Sunoco’s wrong.”
For more information about the lawsuit contact Eric L. Young or Brandon J. Lauria at (215) 367-5151.
Jim McEldrew has scheduled his annual holiday party for Philadelphia’s railroad workers. This year, it will be Friday, December 8, 2017 starting at 6:30 PM at Chez Colette (located inside the Sofitel Hotel). Chez Colette is located at 120 S. 17th St. in Center City, Philadelphia.
With the down turn in the economy over the last several years, there has been an exponential increase in the number of employers who are violating federal and state overtime and other wage protections. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that due to the increase in these violations, that it was successful in obtaining additional funding for enforcement purposes. While additional government investigations and enforcement are welcome it is not enough.
In an effort to provide additional support and expertise to our clients who have been deprived of payment of all wages for hours worked, YLG recently added former DOL Wage and Hour enforcement specialist, Timothy Dronson, Esquire, to the team. While with the DOL, Mr. Dronson fought for employees through the United States and enforced a number of federal laws including, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, and the Service Contract Act.
Mr. Dronson investigated and prosecuted a number of actions while with the DOL involving both large and small companies alike. He is intimately familiar with the methods employers use to avoid paying wages and overtime for all time worked and looks forward to working with YLG attorneys to provide quality representation to those in need.