False Claims Act and Qui Tam Lawsuit Defense for the Tampa Area

Tampa medical providers and businesses are facing an increasing risk of investigations for False Claims Act violations and being named as qui tam defendants. The Oberheiden Law Group is a defense law firm serving Tampa, Florida and the surrounding areas. A former Chief Health Care Fraud Coordinator from the U.S. Attorney’s Office manages our legal defense team. We provide assistance for regulatory compliance, government investigations, and in various legal matters. Oberheiden’s lawyers have impressive educational backgrounds and former employment experience as former federal health care prosecutors and senior trial attorneys. The Oberheiden Law Group serves Tampa, Florida and the surrounding areas.

The Oberheiden Law Group is a recognized leader in False Claims Act and qui tam defense. Our law firm has significant legal experience in regulatory compliance, corporate structuring, litigation, federal government investigations, and criminal defense. Our Health Care Fraud Defense Team includes a former Chief Health Care Fraud Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, several former health care fraud prosecutors, elite former lead prosecutors of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, and accomplished defense lawyers with education from the country’s best law schools, including Yale and Harvard. We provide False Claims Act and qui tam defense services to Tampa, Florida and its surrounding areas.

An Increased Risk of False Claims Act Investigations in Tampa, Florida

Regardless of whether you are a doctor, nurse, other health care provider, a facility, a clinic, a business, a physician-owned entity, or other health care organization in Tampa, you bear the unusually high risk of being investigated by the federal government for violating the False Claims Act. Tampa, Florida is one of nine locations in the United States with a large population that relies on a federal health care program. More claims are filed for reimbursement in this area than in most areas within the United States. Tampa and the surrounding area is closely scrutinized by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force because the federal government believes that there is a higher likelihood that the False Claims Act will be violated.

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 are contacted by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, contact the Oberheiden Law Group immediately to learn about your legal options. Initial consultations are confidential and free of charge.

Basics of the False Claims Act

The False Claims Act is a federal regulation that is applicable to any person, business, or organization having 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 requirement of actual knowledge of the filing of a false claim under the False Claims Act. Liability is established because the federal government believes that, as a health care professional, 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 False Claims Act 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 incredibly serious. You could be subject to both civil and criminal penalties. If you’re notified of an investigation and you are not sure which charges you may be facing, call the Oberheiden Law Group. Once we are retained, we can assist you in determining which charges you may be facing.

Civil penalties are handed down by the civil court. They are extremely serious, although they aren’t criminal in nature. 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 Filed in Tampa, Florida

False Claims Act investigations that take place in Tampa, Florida are often started because of a qui tam lawsuit filed against you or your business. Originally, these lawsuits were used as a legal tool by private citizens to help protect the federal government from being the victim of fraud. 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 are filed and heard in the Middle District of Florida federal court. The plaintiff is referred to as the ‘qui tam realtor.’ These lawsuits are sealed to protect the identity of the plaintiff. The presiding judge and involved federal officials are the only ones who receive unsealed copies of the documents. False Claims Act investigations can take a lot of time. The federal court will grant six month extensions to give the federal government enough time to finish its investigation.

From the moment when you find out that you’re a defendant in a qui tam lawsuit, your lawyer can be in communication with the federal investigators and prosecutors to advocate on your behalf. This can help determine your exposure, and may be able to help you resolve the investigation. The length of time that it may take will determine how complex the case is.

An attorney can also assist you when you begin to receive subpoenas from the federal government regarding your communications, corporate, financial, and billing records. Subpoenas may be issued by 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.

In cases where the federal government decides that it will not support the case, the lawsuit isn’t necessarily over. The plaintiff can continue the case against you. If the plaintiff is successful, they are entitled to 30 percent of the recovered funds. The federal government must receive permission from the Department of Justice to get involved. This is called government intervention. If it happens, you’re likely to face additional charges, such as 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.

Key Defense Strategies for Tampa, Florida Clients

The Oberheiden Law Group has worked to develop key defense strategies for Tampa, Florida clients who are facing False Claims Act investigations or who are defendants in qui tam lawsuits. We developed these strategies using our combined experience as both former federal health care prosecutors and health care fraud defense attorneys.

Contacting the federal government right away. One of the most important strategies that we use for our Tampa clients is to contact the federal government right away. This has several purposes. First and most importantly, we are able to determine the charges that our Tampa clients may be facing. This assists us in choosing the right defenses. 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 are 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.

Using strategic qui tam defenses. Most qui tam lawsuits filed in Tampa aren’t done for legitimate reasons. They are filed in order to hurt health care providers and businesses. We aggressively defend our clients who are involved in qui tam lawsuits. We look to destroy the credibility of the case and the plaintiff. We closely analyze the facts and the evidence to prove to the federal government that the case has no merit, and that the government should not provide its support.

Amicable settlement agreements. In cases where civil liability is suggested, we work toward an amicable settlement. Our objective is to reduce the original amount to one that is more favorable for our clients. None of our clients have been forced to close down their business or stop practicing.

The Oberheiden Law Group, PLLC

The Oberheiden Law Group serves Tampa, Florida doctors, nurses, clinic owners, physician-owned entities, toxicology labs, DME companies, pharmacies, service management organizations, marketing companies that practices in health care, clinics, hospitals, and many other health care-related entities that are being investigated for False Claims Act violations. We also assist defendants in qui tam lawsuits, Stark Law violations, Anti-Kickback statute violations, Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and Department of Labor investigations.

Our Track Record

The attorneys of the Oberheiden Law Group, PLLC 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 the Oberheiden Law Group now and ask to speak with our Health Care Fraud Defense Team about your case. Initial consultations are confidential and free.

False Claims Act and Qui Tam Defense Lawyers Serving Tampa, Florida

Nick OberheidenDr. Nick Oberheiden has successfully represented health care executives, business owners, public officials, physicians, and lawyers in high profile prosecutions, during accusations of political corruption, government investigations, and directed media campaigns, including 60 Minutes. He is most known for stopping federal investigations before criminal charges can be filed. In addition to his health care defense practice, Dr. Oberheiden leads internal investigations, implements corporate compliance programs, and teaches U.S. criminal law and federal litigation in the United States and abroad.

Lynette ByrdLynette S. Byrd is a former Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA). Clients greatly benefit from Ms. Byrd’s experience from the Department of Justice, where she prosecuted health care fraud, Anti-Kickback violations, False Claims Act, and Stark 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.

We are available every day of the year. You can call us directly or complete our contact form or by emailing us directly.

888-997-2520
Including Weekends
Oberheiden Law Group, PLLC
Serving Tampa, Florida and Surrounding Areas
www.medicare-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. The Oberheiden Law Group PLLC is a Texas PLLC with headquarters in Dallas. Mr. Oberheiden limits his practice to federal law.