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Whistleblower Law Collaborative Marks False Claims Act Milestones

BOSTON, March 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- This month marks ten years since Suzanne Durrell (principal of Durrell Law Office) and Bob Thomas (principal of Thomas & Associates) began collaborating on False Claims Act qui tam cases on behalf of whistleblowers. Since joining forces, Ms. Durrell, a former chief of the Civil Division of the Boston U.S. Attorney's Office, and Mr. Thomas, a former white-collar criminal Assistant U.S. Attorney, have achieved enormous success in assisting whistleblowers navigating this complex area of the law.  This month also marks the one-year anniversary of their affiliating their practices under the umbrella of the Whistleblower Law Collaborative, and the launch of the Collaborative's website ( www.whistleblowerlawcollaborative.com) and blog ( www.bostonwhistleblowerlawyerblog.com). 

(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130329/PH85504-a)

(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130329/PH85504-b)

Over the years, several of their whistleblower cases have successfully concluded, helping the government recover more than $4 billion and whistleblowers receive rewards exceeding $50 million.  In 2012, two more major cases were successfully resolved:  Amgen and WellCare. The whistleblower case brought by Kassie Westmoreland against Amgen, Inc., the world's largest biotechnology company, was settled as part of a $780 million global settlement among the United States, several States, and Amgen in December 2012. The whistleblower case by SF United Partners was part of a $137.5 million civil settlement among the United States, several states and WellCare Health Plans, Inc., in April 2012. 

In addition to FCA qui tam casework, Ms. Durrell and Mr. Thomas have been active over the years in educating the public, the bar, the press, and law students on the False Claims Act and its reach. In the past year, major events included:

  • Mr. Thomas again taught his popular seminar on Healthcare Fraud and Abuse at Boston University School of Law.  Combining substantive information with practical insights from different areas of professional practice, the course again drew rave comments in student evaluations. 
  • Ms. Durrell and Mr. Thomas were panelists at and sponsors of the 2012 ABA National Institute on the Civil False Claims Act & Qui Tam Enforcement. Ms. Durrell authored an article entitled The Relator's Role in False Claims Act Investigations: Towards a New Paradigm, while Mr. Thomas spoke about the complexities of FCA settlements.
  • Ms. Durrell was on the planning committee for the Taxpayers Against Fraud ("TAF") Education Fund's twelfth annual conference, and both Mr. Thomas and Ms. Durrell spoke at the conference in September 2012. 
  • Ms. Durrell was honored to be invited to the 2012 Bench and Bar Conference for the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts: Changing Landscapes in Law—Legal and Beyond. She was part of a panel addressing trends in health care fraud enforcement.    
  • Ms. Durrell was a contributor to the New England Legal Foundation's 2012 Fall Breakfast Program, Whistleblowing in 2012: What Every Business and Business Lawyer Should Know
  • Mr. Thomas participated in the False Claims Act Roundtable, hosted by Ropes & Gray in February 2013. This specialized roundtable provided a unique opportunity for Mr. Thomas to offer remarks from the perspective of a whistleblower lawyer and exchange perspectives with defense counsel and in-house counsel for pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies.

Finally, this month marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of federal False Claims Act.  The FCA has proven to be the government's strongest and most enduring weapon against fraud. Over half of the states have also passed FCAs. With federal and state FCAs  producing record numbers of cases and recoveries over the last ten years, the Whistleblower Law Collaborative is proud to have contributed to the government's war on fraud.

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