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.”
For many, today is the day to exercise their right to participate in a representative democracy established more than 200 years ago by the founders of the United States of America. For others, it is the time to change a political climate hostile to their business and put a friendlier face in office in case their corporation needs a political ally in the future.
Today’s midterm election has been the most expensive in U.S. history. A non-partisan group tracking political spending has projected $4 billion in spending by politicians and interest groups. Approximately 25% of the money spent, or roughly $1 billion, came from interest groups not formally tied to a party or candidate.
What did their $1 billion buy? At best, the opportunity to promote a candidate with a more favorable platform to a win at the election. At worst, they urged Americans to vote for a sympathetic ear to their cause gained through past political donations or other connections.
Corporations have been using using their money and connections to attempt to influence elections for years. As a New York Times op-ed last week pointed out, the SEC does not even require companies to disclose to shareholders their political spending. The fact that many of the organizations they donate to are created for the sole purpose of supporting the election of candidates with particular beliefs and obfuscate the identity of supporters poses additional concerns.
Even Christian pastors are stepping into the game, flouting IRS rules requiring tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations to steer clear of endorsing or funding political candidates. Instead, thousands are now endorsing candidates in Sunday sermons to help elect politicians who will create rules that support their beliefs.
Improper influence is not limited to elections, either. Last week, the New York Times had an extensive article about corporate lobbying of State Attorneys General in order to avoid litigation or minimize the cost of settling charges of misconduct.
This is an issue that hits home here. We are frequently called on to convince state attorneys in the 29 states with a version of the False Claims Act to take the information our clients give them and use their resources to prosecute the company. Their decision to intervene should be based on the quality of the information provided, the merits of the legal arguments and the resources required of the state. It should not be a political decision dependent on the quality of the corporation’s lobbying efforts.
Lobbying is not limited to the states, unfortunately. Healthcare companies, the industry most targeted by the False Claims Act in the past ten years, have spent millions lobbying the Senate and House for regulatory approvals and favorable CMS reimbursements. According to Modern Healthcare, which tracks healthcare lobbying, organizations representing health professionals spent $85 million on lobbying last year alone.
Although we recognize that many individuals are dedicated public servants who work hard to protect their citizens, the anecdotal evidence is still alarming. The power of elected officials to exercise their discretion or change the rules of the game in order to help their friends and contacts is too great.
If an individual stands for issues that you care about, then by all means vote for them in the election today. But do not be swayed by the marketing machine of corporations that spend their money to ensure career politicians will help them avoid the consequences of their actions when they are later caught breaking the law.
On Tuesday, our associate Brandon Lauria received a fruit basket from a client that he helped. It’s the first that he’s been given for his legal work, but we don’t think it will be his last.
In May, Brandon was named a 2014 Pennsylvania Rising Star by Super Lawyers. This is the fourth straight year that he has earned the distinction.
The Rising Stars distinction recognizes the top up-and-coming attorneys in Pennsylvania. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the eligible lawyers in PA receive this honor. The category is limited to attorneys who have been practicing 10 years or less, and are 40 years old or younger. Super Lawyers appoints outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of professional achievement and peer recognition.
DENVER HEALTH & HOSPITAL AUTHORITY TO PAY $6.2 MILLION TO SETTLE CLAIMS THAT IT OVERBILLED MEDICARE AND MEDICAID
Philadelphia, PA, January 5, 2012– Egan Young, Attorneys-at-Law, is pleased to announce that Denver Health and Hospital Authority (“DHHA”) has agreed to pay $6.3 million to settle allegations that the DHHA submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid by improperly submitting claims for short hospital stays as though they were “inpatient” stays when they should have been billed as less expensive “outpatient” or “observation” stays. The case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado and is captioned U.S. ex rel. Joanne Curren v. Denver Health & Hospital Authority, 09-CV-01752.
The qui tam suit was filed in 2009 pursuant to the False Claims Act, by Joanne Curren, a former DHHA employee. The False Claims Act is a law that enables private citizens (“whistleblowers”) with original information of fraud against the United States to file lawsuits on the government’s behalf.As an incentive for coming forward, whistleblowers are rewarded with a percentage of the government’s recovery.
Ms. Curren alleged that, as a result of the improper inpatient classifications, DHHA submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid in violation of the False Claims Act.Ms. Curren also asserted that she was retaliated against for having voiced her concerns about improper billings to her superiors.In fact, shortly after having internally reported her concerns, Ms. Curren’s employment was terminated.
The prosecution of the case was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado under the direction of Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcy E. Cook and the Attorney General’s Office for the State of Colorado under the direction of First Assistant Attorney General Timothy X. Sokas.In consideration of having brought the allegations to the government’s attention as she did, the settlement provides that Ms. Curren shall receive a reward under the False Claims Act totaling over $800,000.00.
Relator Curren was represented by Eric L. Young, Esquire, of Egan Young, Attorneys-at-Law, a law firm dedicated to representing whistleblowers.Mr. Young stated, “My hat goes off to AUSA Marcy Cook who did an outstanding job of investigating the detailed allegations against DHHA and in maximizing the financial recovery for the benefit of the government and taxpayers”.Mr. Young was assisted on this case by Brandon J. Lauria, Esquire.
Young Law Group, P.C., Attorneys-at-Law, represents whistleblowers nationwide. For a free confidential consultation, please call Eric L. Young, Esquire at 1-800-590-4116 or email to email@example.com.
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.
As a result of a Whistleblower complaint filed by James Legg of Anchorage, Alaska, on October 23, 2007, Polar Tankers, Inc., a subsidiary of ConocoPhillips, pled guilty to failure to maintain an oil record book aboard the T/V Polar Discovery, an 895 foot crude oil tanker in violation of 33 U.S.C. §1908(a) of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. The statute requires all ships to record all transfers of oil and oily waste occurring on the vessel, including emergency and accidental discharges of oily waste.
As detailed in Mr. Legg’s whistleblower complaint, on January 16, 2004, the crew aboard the T/V Polar Discovery was transferring the oily sludge from the engine room tanks through piping to a holding tank on deck. An open valve caused sludge to spill onto the deck and through the scuppers – holes in the ship that allow water and other liquids to drain off the deck. Instead of reporting the spill, the captain slowed the vessel and turned it away from the wind so that the crew could clean off the oil left on the side of the ship where it had drained through the scuppers. The captain then falsified the bridge logbook by reporting the change of course as a man overboard drill.
The ConocoPhillips’ tanker company has agreed to pay a government fine in the amount of $500,000 as well as make a $2,000,000 contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The Court also awarded the whistleblower, James Legg, the maximum reward of 50% of the fine or $250,000 for his efforts in the case.
Mr. Legg, an Engineer aboard the T/V Polar Discovery at the time of the spill, was represented by co-counsel, Brandon J. Lauria.
“Mr. Legg is a courageous and conscientious citizen who reported Polar Tankers’ wrongdoing because it was in the public interest. The Court’s decision to award Mr. Legg with the maximum statutory reward for his efforts is significant because it recognizes the vital role played by whistleblowers in combating acts harmful to our environment,” said Mr. Lauria.
Young Law Group, P.C., Attorneys-at-Law, is pleased to announce final approval of a $1.2 million dollar settlement with Horsehead Corporation to resolve a collective action lawsuit brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) on behalf of over 500 present and former unionized zinc production workers in Monaca, Pennsylvania. (Figas, et. al. v. Horsehead Corporation, 2:06-cv-01344, W.D.Pa.).
Plaintiffs, members of the United Steelworkers of America, Local 8183, asserted that Horsehead violated the FLSA by failing to pay production workers for time spent donning and doffing protective clothing and equipment before and after paid time. Plaintiffs also sought compensation for the time spent by production workers traveling to and from their respective work locations.
Eric L. Young, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, commented, “Horsehead’s Zinc Production Workers labor tirelessly in a difficult and dangerous work environment — they deserve to be paid for all of the time spent at work. We are honored to have been successful in obtaining additional wages for these dedicated workers.”
For more information about this settlement, please contact Eric L. Young, Esquire at 215-367-5151 or firstname.lastname@example.org Young Law Group, a Philadelphia-based law group, is dedicated to representing employees throughout the United States in wage and hour collective and class action litigation.
New York Employees Subjected to Off-the-Clock Security Searches & Missed Breaks
NEW YORK – Jan. 24, 2008 – Eric L. Young, Esq. has filed a 2nd Class Action Complaint against Best Buy in the Supreme Court of New York on behalf of a class of current and former Best Buy employees alleging violations of New York state labor laws. The lawsuit contends that employees at 33 New York Best Buy stores are subjected to off-the-clock security checks at the end of each shift which can take up to 15 minutes. It also accuses the Richfield, Minnesota-based company of forcing employees to work through meal and rest breaks without compensation.
The suit alleges that after clocking out, employees are required to wait in line at a security checkpoint along with customers and submit to a search. Employees who work the closing shift are subjected to the longest waits since store policy dictates that all employees gather at the front of the store before beginning security checks.
“Workers are not being paid for mandatory searches which frequently add up to a half hour or more a week per employee,” said Eric L. Young, Esquire.
The suit also maintains that employees are routinely required to work during paid meal and/or rest breaks.
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.
Whistleblower lawsuit results in a ruling that Renal Care Group, a dialysis company formerly headquartered in Nashville, must pay $19.4 million plus interest to the United States government after it allegedly set up a shell company in order to inflate its Medicare billing.
Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) March 24, 2010 — United States District Court Judge William J. Haynes, Jr. issued an order on March 22, 2010 awarding the United States $19,366,705.00 plus prejudgment interest on unjust enrichment claims against Renal Care Group (“RCG”), RCG Supply Company (“RCGSC”) and Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc. as the successor-in-interest to RCG and RCGSC. This award to the United States arises from claims made in a whistleblower complaint alleging fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid billing practices by RCG and RCGSC that violated the False Claims Act.
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, according to the qui tam Complaint filed on behalf of former RCG employees, Julie Williams and John Martinez, M.D.
This ruling serves as a significant reminder that fraudulent Medicare billing practices are not going to be tolerated. RCG was aware, as evidenced by their own internal communications and documents, that they were attempting to operate ‘above the law.’ Through the persistence and dedication of the government and our clients, the Court has rendered justice RCG’s operations not only took advantage of taxpayers through fraudulent Medicare billing, they also took advantage of the sick and vulnerable nature of their patients using their Medicare beneficiary status to line corporate pockets.
Between January 1999 and December 2005, RCGSC submitted claims for reimbursement to the Medicare program for home dialysis equipment and supplies provided to End-Stage Renal Disease (“ESRD”) patients. All of these claims, as well as related claims for support services rendered by RCG dialysis clinics were ineligible for reimbursement because RCGSC was not qualified to bill Medicare for these home dialysis patients.
According to Eric Young, “RCG’s operation of a bogus supply company in order to artificially increase its Medicare reimbursements came at a great cost to taxpayers. Due to the courageousness of people like Ms. Williams and Dr. Martinez, in addition to the hard work and tenacity of counsel, including federal prosecutors, Andrew Lay and Laurie Oberembt, Fresenius is being held accountable for RCG’s misconduct. It is our hope that this decision will encourage more people who become aware of fraud on the government to step forward, particularly when waste and abuse of our tax dollars is at an all time high.”
In granting judgment for the United States, Judge Haynes found that RCG and RCGSC were unjustly enriched by their receipt of Method II payments for dialysis supplies that RCGSC procured unlawfully. Additionally, the Court found that the supply company itself was not a legitimate supplier of home dialysis supplies. The federal investigation into RCG’s fraudulent billing practices was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri under the direction of acting U.S. Attorney Michael W. Reap, and 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 U.S. Attorney Edward Yarborough, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Rivera, and Laurie Oberembt from the Department of Justice.
United States ex rel. Williams, et al. v. Renal Care Group, et al. Middle District of Tennessee CA No.: 3:09-00738