South Carolina Covid 19 Whistlebower Law Firm
Whistleblowers Witness Covid-19 Fraud Firsthand in South Carolina
In March 2020, as the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic became apparent across America, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This $2 trillion economic relief package was designed to provide economic aid to state and local governments and assistance for small businesses, through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Paycheck Protection Program is a forgivable loan that businesses can take out to cover up to 8 weeks of payroll costs and benefits, and to pay their rent, mortgages, and utilities during the crisis. While these funds have been essential in keeping local governments afloat due to losses in local tax revenue and also instrumental in keeping small businesses open and people employed during what has been one of the toughest economic periods in American history, there is increasing concern that in some cases, these funds might be misused.
Already there have been reports of people using PPP funds not as intended. In one egregious example, a man used the PPP funds to buy expensive cars and to pay for luxury hotels. Fortunately, many workers are on the front lines, able to see firsthand when businesses commit fraud or engage in misconduct. If you witnessed misconduct regarding PPP funds, or CARES Act money, and report the incident, you could receive protections under the False Claims Act (FCA). Under the False Claims Act, you may be entitled to receive up to 30% of the money that the government recovers (sometimes a substantial amount) and receive protections from retaliation under whistleblower protection laws..
Whistleblowers who report fraud to the government and who help the government recover money stand to receive a reward (30% of the money recovered for the government under the False Claims Act, according to Cornell Law), but blowing the whistle on a company can be risky in terms of a person’s career and reputation. And making a claim under the False Claims Act without proper evidence can be risky without proper legal representation. It is important that your evidence be strong and that you have the best possible representation on your side. It is important that the matter is investigated and the evidence is reviewed.
The Louthian Law Firm, P.A. is a whistleblower law firm in South Carolina that works closely with workers, employees, and members of the public who witness wrongdoing firsthand, helping them blow the whistle and report false claims. We also help defend workers who have been retaliated against for their whistleblower activity. Our whistleblower law firm has helped other clients bring successful False Claims Act qui tam lawsuits in South Carolina. We know what it takes to win and can take the time to review your case if you think you have a claim.
Qui Tam Lawsuits in South Carolina
The False Claims Act is a powerful law that gives everyday citizens who witness fraud against the federal government the right to pursue a lawsuit against the company or individual defrauding the government. In a qui tam lawsuit, according to Cornell Law School, the private individual, called a “relator” brings forth a lawsuit claiming the money stolen or fraudulently used, and if the private individual wins the case, he or she can claim up to 30% of the money that the government recovers. The False Claims Act is usually used when medical providers or government contractors knowingly send false claims for payment to the government. But, under the new Paycheck Protection Program, there may be more opportunities for businesses to take government money, receive forgiveness for these loans, but then not use these loans to pay their employees and keep employees on payroll as intended. Workers on the front lines may witness these violations. There may also be cases where medical providers receiving federal money might also violate the law. Workers who bring forth a qui tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act not only stand to receive 30% of the money recovered for the government, but important protections against retaliation under whistleblower protection laws.
If you do suffer retaliation because you “blew the whistle” you may also have the right to recover the lost wages and damages you suffered as a result of the retaliation. According to the United States Department of Labor, retaliation can include actions like firing or laying off a worker for blowing the whistle, demoting a worker for speaking up about wrongdoing, denying a worker overtime or promotions for speaking up, disciplining a worker for being a whistleblower, denying the worker benefits for his or her whistleblower activity, using intimidation, making threats, reducing pay or hours, or denying a worker access to training, meetings, and other opportunities for advancement. Blacklisting a worker by trying to interfere with a worker’s ability to get future jobs in the field could also be seen as retaliation. If you have suffered retaliation for blowing the whistle, you may have rights under the law and may be able to seek damages from the employer who retaliated against you.
The Louthian Law Firm is a whistleblower law firm in South Carolina that also works with individuals who have suffered retaliation for speaking up about wrongdoing. Contact the Louthian Law Firm, a whistleblower law firm in South Carolina today.
Covid-19 and the False Claims Act Whistleblower Protections in South Carolina
The United States Department of Justice is taking a hard line against criminals that use the coronavirus pandemic to profit due to public fear. For example, medical providers and nursing homes that receive federal funding are required to follow federal guidance and provide a proper standard of care to residents and patients. If you have witnessed a situation where a nursing home, hospital, long term care facility, or doctor’s office that is receiving federal funds is not providing the standard of care to patients or is falsely billing the government for Covid-19 tests not administered, patients and the general public have been advised to call the government and make a report. The Department of Justice has a website with contact information. But, if you think a deeper pattern of wrongdoing and fraud is taking place, you may want to speak to a whistleblower lawyer first. The Louthian Law Firm is a whistleblower law firm in South Carolina that has successfully helped whistleblowers collect millions for reporting wrongdoing. However, a specific process must be followed with a qui tam lawsuit, and the Louthian Law Firm may be able to help you.
Some Examples of Successful False Claim Act Lawsuits
What are some things potential whistleblowers can watch out for? What are some things the general public can be aware of? There have been reports of websites spoofing coronavirus aid associations and seeking donations for false charities. In other cases, websites have imitated government programs in an attempt to get the public’s personal information. The United States Department of Justice has a detailed article on some of its recent successful claims. What are some examples of successful claims?
- The Department of Justice reports on several cases where medical providers routinely and regularly made it a practice to send improper codes to Medicare for billing purposes. Medicare was routinely charged more than it should have been by several hospitals, health organizations, and medical institutions. With Covid-19 testing in place, it is important that these tests be properly billed when administered.
- Kickback schemes have also resulted in successful false claims act recoveries. Doctors should not receive commissions for referring patients to inflate hospital admissions. Paying a patient’s share of a co-payment for certain medications to inflate costs have also resulted in successful false claim act lawsuits.
Workers in various industries may be uniquely positioned to witness wrongdoing. For example, people who work at banks may witness cases where PPP loans are falsely approved or certified. Workers for small businesses may also be able to bring a false claims act lawsuit if they see their employers take PPP money, but not use the money as intended. PPP money should be used to pay workers, to pay utilities, and mortgage or rent. The Louthian Law Firm is a whistleblower law firm in South Carolina that works with individuals who have witnessed wrongdoing and who have questions about whether they may have the right to initiate a qui tam lawsuit. Our law firm has successfully helped clients with these types of lawsuits. Contact the Louthian Law Firm today to learn more.