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False Claims Act & Qui Tam Lawsuit Defense in Tampa, Florida

Qui tam lawsuits that are filed in Tampa, Florida often kickoff federal investigations into whether a person or business violated the False Claims Act. In addition to providing clients in Tampa, Florida and the surrounding areas with qui tam defense, we also represent clients being investigated by the federal government and during federal criminal matters. Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP also assists clients in need of compliance programs and with corporate structuring. Our legal team is comprised of highly educated and experienced lawyers. In fact, several of our team members are former federal health care prosecutors and senior trial attorneys. Our defense team is managed by a former Chief Health Care Fraud Coordinator from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP represents clients in Tampa, Florida, its surrounding areas, and the entire State of Florida.

Tampa, Florida health care practitioners, 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 serves Tampa, Florida health care providers, systems, businesses, and other health care entities that are being investigated for violating the False Claims Act. Dr. Nick Oberheiden is a Harvard-trained negotiator and renowned health care fraud defense attorney. Dr. Oberheiden is also the principal managing partner of Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP.

False Claims Act Violations in Tampa, Florida

Doctors, nurses, other health care providers, facilities, clinics, businesses, physician-owned entities, and other health care organizations in Tampa or its surrounding areas bear an unusually high risk of being investigated for violating the False Claims Act. Tampa, Florida is one of nine areas with a large population of people who rely on a federal health care program for care. This causes more claims to be filed through CMS. The increase in claims causes the area to be closely watched by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force because of the belief that the federal government has that there is a higher likelihood of fraud.

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force is a mixed agency of federal investigators and prosecutors from various agencies, such as 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. They watch for, investigate, and prosecute violations of the False Claims Act.

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

Basics of the False Claims Act

The False Claims Act is a federal statute. It is applicable to any person, business, or organization with a direct or indirect contract with and those 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.

Under the False Claims Act, there is no legal requirement of actual knowledge of the filing of a false claim. Rather, liability is created because if you did not know that the claim would be a violation, you should have known. Consider medical coding and the recent update to ICD-10. It doesn’t matter whether someone works in your office or if you outsource your coding. If they use an obsolete code, it is implied by the law that you should have known about it. It is your professional obligation to know that your claims include the appropriate codes.

Civil and Criminal Penalties

False Claims Act investigations are serious matters. You could be subject to both civil and criminal penalties. If you’re not sure which charges you are facing, call Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP now. Once retained, we can help determine which charges you may be facing.

Civil penalties are levied by the civil court. Although civil penalties are thought to be less severe than criminal penalties, they can still have a long-lasting effect on your life. You may also face other civil problems, such as a hearing with the state licensing board. 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 Tampa, Florida

False Claims Act investigations in Tampa, Florida are often caused by a qui tam lawsuit that is filed against you or your organization. These lawsuits were originally designed to be a legal tool that private citizens could use to protect the federal government from being defrauded. If a qui tam lawsuit is successful, the plaintiff receives a share of the recovered funds. Qui tam is a Latin phrase that means ‘he who sues for the king and himself.’ However, this whistleblowing tool is now abused by spiteful former employees and competitors who want to remove you and your business from the industry.

Qui tam lawsuits in Tampa, Florida are filed and heard in the Middle District of Florida federal court. The plaintiff is listed in the lawsuit as the ‘qui tam realtor.’ These cases are sealed to protect the identity of the plaintiff. Only the presiding judge and involved federal investigators receive unsealed copies of the documents. False Claims Act investigations can take a lot of time. The Middle District of Florida routinely grants six month extensions to give the federal government the time that it requires to finish its 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 case, it isn’t necessarily over. The plaintiff can elect to continue the case against you. If the plaintiff wins the lawsuit, they will receive 30 percent of the recovered funds. Federal prosecutors and investigators need the permission of the Department of Justice to get involved. This is a process called government intervention. In cases where the government intervenes, qui tam lawsuits are often 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.

Crucial Defense Strategies in False Claims Act Investigations

Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP has developed crucial defense strategies for False Claims Act investigations in Tampa, Florida and in the rest of the nation. These strategies were developed out of our combined experience in both federal health care prosecution and health care fraud defense.

Early contact with the federal government. One of the most crucial defense strategies is to get into early contact with the federal government. This has several purposes. First and foremost, we are able to ascertain the charges that are clients may be facing. This assists us in choosing the right defenses for each client. We are also able to minimize the risk of criminal charges. 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.

Developing strategic qui tam defenses. Earlier, you learned that most qui tam lawsuits in Tampa, Florida are not filed for honest reasons. They are filed in order to hurt health care providers and businesses. We will aggressively confront qui tam lawsuits for our Tampa, Florida clients. We look to destroy the integrity and credibility of the case and the qui tam plaintiff. We do this by closely analyzing the facts and evidence. We work to prove to the federal government that the case has no merit and that it should not provide its support.

Negotiating a favorable settlement. In civil liability 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 serves Tampa, Florida doctors; clinic owners; physician-owned entities; toxicology labs; DME companies; pharmacies; service management organizations; marketing companies that work 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 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 Tampa, 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 Tampa, 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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