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False Claims Act & Qui Tam Lawsuit Defense in Florida

False Claims Act investigations that occur in Florida often start because of a qui tam lawsuit. The Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP assists clients who are named as qui tam defendants or who are being investigated for violating the False Claims Act. Our law firm is also experienced in criminal defense and regulatory compliance. We also represent clients being investigated by the federal government in various matters. Our legal defense team is managed by a former Chief Health Care Fraud Coordinator with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Members of our firm have impressive law school backgrounds and many have former experience as federal prosecutors and senior trial lawyers. Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP serves clients throughout the State of Florida.

Florida health care providers, businesses, physician-owned entities, and facilities have a higher risk of dealing with a False Claims Act investigation than similar health care entities in the United States. If the federal government investigates your practice, entity, or business, you could be subject to civil or criminal penalties.

Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP provides Florida health care providers, systems, businesses, and other health care entities with excellent health care fraud defense strategies. Dr. Nick Oberheiden is a Harvard-trained negotiator and renowned health care fraud defense attorney. Dr. Oberheiden is the principal managing partner of the Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP.

False Claims Act Violations in Florida

Individual health care providers, clinics, facilities, businesses, and other health care organizations in Florida have a higher-than-average risk of being investigated for violating the False Claims Act. Florida is one of nine areas with a high number of citizens who rely on federal health care programs. This reliance means that more claims are filed in Florida. The increase in claims leads the federal government to believe that it faces a higher risk of being defrauded. Because of this, Florida is closely monitored by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force is an investigative agency that involves prosecutors and investigators from the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Inspector General, the DEA, the FBI, and the IRS. Other agencies can also be involved. This team monitors, investigates, and prosecutes False Claims Act violations.

If you’re under investigation by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, call Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP right away. Initial consultations are free, and they are confidential.

What You Should Know About the False Claims Act

The False Claims Act is a federal law that is applicable to any individual, business, or other organization with a direct or indirect contract with and that will receive payment by the federal government for equipment or services. Any person, business, contractor, or organization that knowingly submits or causes the submission of a false claim for approval and payment by the federal government may be subject to civil or criminal penalties.

There is no legal requirement of actual knowledge under the False Claims Act. You do not actually have to be aware of the false claim to be liable for it. Liability occurs because, even if you did not know that a claim would be a violation of the law, you should have known. Medical coding recently updated to the ICD-10. If an obsolete code or an inaccurate code is used by someone you hired or outsourced your coding to, you could be held legally responsible. It is your professional obligation to know that the codes used on your claims that will be submitted to the government are up-to-date.

Civil and Criminal Penalties Under the False Claims Act

If you’re investigated for violating the False Claims Act, you can be subject to both civil and criminal penalties. If you’re being investigated and you don’t know which charges you’re facing, call Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP now. Once retained, we can assist you in determining which charges you may face.

Civil penalties are handed down by the civil court. These penalties may seem less severe when compared to criminal penalties, but they can still have a long-term effect on your life. Additionally, you could face civil penalties levied against you by the state disciplinary committee. You may be subject to one or more of the following civil penalties:

  • Treble damages (damages that are three times more than the amount that the claim is worth)
  • A fine of up to $11,000 per false claim
  • State disciplinary proceedings
  • Loss of your professional license
  • Loss of hospital privileges
  • You could be ordered to pay attorneys’ fees for the federal government

Criminal penalties are imposed by the criminal court. You may face one or more of the following:

  • Criminal indictment
  • Prison time
  • A fine of $250,000 per claim for individuals for federal felony convictions
  • A fine of $500,000 per claim for businesses for federal felony convictions
  • A fine of $100,000 per claim for individuals for a misdemeanor conviction
  • A fine of $200,000 per claim for businesses for a misdemeanor conviction

Qui Tam Lawsuits in Florida

False Claims Act investigations that occur in Florida are often triggered by a qui tam lawsuit. These lawsuits were designed as a legal tool for private citizens to help protect the federal government from being defrauded. When a qui tam lawsuit is successful, the plaintiff receives a percentage of the recovered funds. Qui tam is a Latin phrase. It means ‘he who sues for the king and himself.’ Yet, what started out as a way to be rewarded for helping the government avoid fraudulent acts has now become an abused mechanism. Florida qui tam lawsuits are rarely filed because of legitimate fraud. Rather, they are filed by angry former employees and jealous competitors who want to punish you and remove you from the health care industry.

Qui tam lawsuits are filed and heard in federal court. However, which federal court will depend on where you or your health care practice or business operate in Florida. These cases are sealed to protect the identity of the plaintiff (known as the ‘qui tam realtor’ in the case). The assigned judge and involved federal officials are the only people who receive unsealed copies of the case. Because these investigations can be lengthy, the federal court will routinely grant six month extensions to allow the federal government the time it needs to conclude the investigation.

If you are served as a defendant to a qui tam lawsuit, you need to immediately retain a health care fraud defense lawyer. Your lawyer can get into communication with the federal government to advocate for you. This can help determine what can be done to resolve the investigation, and possibly even settle any civil liabilities that you may face.

The federal government will issue subpoenas for your financial, billing, corporate, communication, and other records. Subpoenas may come from the FBI, the IRS, OIG, DEA, DOJ, or other federal agencies. Once the federal government receives the documents, it will take the time to review them to determine whether it will support or decline to get involved in the qui tam lawsuit.

If the federal government declines to support the qui tam lawsuit, that doesn’t mean that the case is dismissed. The plaintiff can still elect to continue the case. If they win, they will receive a reward of 30 percent of the recovered funds. The federal government can only support the case if it receives permission from the Department of Justice. Government support of a qui tam lawsuit is known as government intervention. In this instance, the qui tam lawsuit may be amended to include violations of the Anti-Kickback Act, the Truth in Negotiation Act, or the Physician Self-Referral Law. If you lose the qui tam suit, the plaintiff will receive 25 percent of the recovered funds as a reward.

Strategic Defenses for Florida False Claims Act Investigations

Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP developed strategic defenses for False Claims Act investigations in Florida and throughout the United States. These strategies were developed and refined by utilizing our combined experience in both federal health care prosecution and health care fraud defense.

Contact with the federal government. It may seem basic, but one of the most strategic ways that we help our clients in Florida is to get into contact with the federal government as soon as we can. We are able to ascertain the charges that are clients may be facing once we contact the federal investigators. This assists us in choosing the right defenses for each client. We are also able to minimize the risk of criminal charges by this one strategy. When we contact the federal government, we are able to get answers to important questions, such as why the investigation was opened, the exposure to our clients, and what mistakes our clients should correct in order to resolve the investigation. We are often able to get the answers to these questions within just a few hours of our engagement.

Qui tam defense. Most qui tam lawsuits that are filed in Florida aren’t done so because of legitimate fraud. They are filed to hurt providers and businesses. Because of this, we aggressively confront qui tam lawsuits for our Florida clients. Our objective is to destroy the integrity of the case and the plaintiff. We will closely analyze the facts and evidence. Our goal is to prove to the federal government that the case is meritless, and it doesn’t deserve governmental support.

Favorable settlements in civil cases. In civil cases, the government may be open to settling the claims. We work to lower the original claim to something more favorable to our clients. To date, none of our clients have ever been forced to shut down their business or stop practicing medicine.

Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP

Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP has provided successful legal defenses in Florida and nationwide for doctors; clinic owners; physician-owned entities; toxicology labs; DME companies; pharmacies; service management organizations; marketing companies that operate in health care , clinics, hospitals; and many other health care related entities in relation to False Claims Act violations. We also assist defendants in qui tam lawsuits; Stark Law violations; Anti-Kickback statute violations; and with Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and Department of Labor investigations.

Our Track Record

The attorneys of Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP have successfully defended physicians, practice owners, physician owned entities, toxicology laboratories, device companies, pharmacies, service management organizations, health care marketing companies, hospitals, and many others in False Claims Act, qui tam lawsuits, Stark Law, Anti-Kickback, Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and DOL investigations.

  • False Claims Act Investigation (Pharmacy)   Result: No Liability.
  • False Claims Act Investigation (Pharmacy)   Result: No Liability.
  • False Claims Act Investigation (Laboratory Group)   Result: No Liability.
  • False Claims Act Investigation (Laboratory Group)   Result: No Liability.
  • False Claims Act Investigation (Laboratory Group)   Result: No Liability.
  • False Claims Act Investigation (Physician)   Result: No Liability.
  • False Claims Act Investigation (Physician)   Result: No Liability.
  • False Claims Act Investigation (DME Company)   Result: No Liability.
  • False Claims Act Investigation (MSO)   Result: No Liability.
  • False Claims Act Investigation (MSO)   Result: No Liability.
  • False Claims Act Investigation (Physician Syndication)   Result: No Liability.
  • False Claims Act Investigation (Physician Syndication)   Result: No Liability.
  • False Claims Act Investigation (Physician Syndication)   Result: No Liability.
  • False Claims Act Investigation (Device Company)   Result: No Liability.
  • False Claims Act Investigation (Health Care Service Provider)   Result: No Liability.

Call our experienced attorneys at Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP now and ask to speak with our Health Care Fraud Defense Team about your case. Initial consultations are confidential and free.

False Claims Act Defense Lawyers Serving Florida

Nick OberheidenDr. Nick Oberheiden has represented clients in qui tam lawsuits, False Claims Act investigations, Medicare fraud investigations, Tricare fraud investigations, Stark Law violations, and anti-kickback proceedings before virtually all federal agencies including, but not limited to, the Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Labor (DOL). Dr. Oberheiden is trained in negotiations by Harvard Law School and holds a Juris Doctor from the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as a Ph.D. in law.

Lynette ByrdLynette S. Byrd is a former Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA). Detroit clients greatly benefit from Ms. Byrd’s previous experience with the Department of Justice, where she prosecuted health care fraud, Anti-Kickback violations, violations of the False Claims Act, and Stark Law violations on behalf of the United States. Ms. Byrd has immense experience with health care law enforcement, and she regularly argues federal matters for her clients.

Don’t wait. We’re available now to discuss your case. Call us, email us, or use our contact form.

800-810-0259
Including Weekends
Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP
Serving the State of Florida and Surrounding Areas
www.federal-lawyer.com
This information has been prepared for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information may constitute attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Reading of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. Prior results do not guarantee similar future outcomes. Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP is a Texas LLP with headquarters in Dallas. Mr. Oberheiden limits his practice to federal law.

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