Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton - June 2020

June 2020

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LIABILITY UNDER THE FALSE CLAIMS ACT The False Claims Act holds fraudsters liable in a variety of ways. Liability is statutory and is based upon a violation of one of the seven subsections of the FCA found in 31 U.S.C. §3729(a)(1). The primary violations are:

histleblowers are vitally important during a time of national crisis. The False Claims Act (FCA) is the primary weapon used by the

Department of Justice to combat fraud on the federal government. It was written by President Abraham Lincoln during another time of national crisis: the American Civil War. Lincoln wrote the law to enlist the public as private attorneys general to combat rampant defense contracting fraud undermining the army. The FCA empowers private citizens with knowledge of fraud on the federal government to hire a lawyer and file suit on behalf of the United States to recover funds wrongfully taken fromour federal treasury. For the whistleblower’s efforts in exposing and providing evidence of the fraud, the whistleblower can be awarded between 15%–30% of the government’s recovery. REPORT COVID-19 RELIEF BILL FRAUDSTERS During the time of the COVID-19 crisis and the $2.2 trillion relief bill enacted by Congress to address the economic impacts of the virus, unscrupulous businesses and individuals are likely to try and take advantage and wrongfully obtain our tax dollars that were meant to help those truly in need. This fraud may come in many forms: fraudulently claiming eligibility on an application for loans or grants for which the person or business does not qualify; obtaining payroll protection loans and then fraudulently claiming the business met the requirements to have the loans forgiven; fraudulently providing equipment or supplies the government has ordered to combat the virus; falsifying quality tests for equipment ordered by the government to combat the virus; and fraudulently claiming eligibility for relief funds for which an individual or business does not qualify. We need courageous whistleblowers to step forward and report this type of fraud.

(A) knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval;

(B) knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim;

(C) conspires to commit a violation of subparagraph (A), (B), (D), (E), (F), or (G);

(D) has possession, custody, or control of property or money used, or to be used, by the government and knowingly delivers, or causes to be delivered, less than all of that money or property;

(E) is authorized to make or deliver a document certifying receipt of property used, or to be used, by the government and, intending to defraud the government, makes or delivers the receipt without completely knowing that the information on the receipt is true;

(F) knowingly buys, or receives as a pledge of an obligation or debt, public property from an officer or employee of the government, or a member of the U.S. armed forces, who lawfully may not sell or pledge property; or

(G) knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the government, or knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the government. DAMAGES If a defendant is found guilty of violating one of the seven false claim subsections, 31 U.S.C. §3729(a) provides that the court shall assess “three times the amount of damages which the government sustains because of the act of that person ...” The calculation of damages is simply stated — that is damages are the difference between what the government actually paid minus what the government either received or should have paid had the claim or

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3 Water Safety Tips

Summer is just around the corner, which means more and more people are heading to the local pools and Alabama’s lakes for a chance to cool off and enjoy a day of fun. While it’s tempting to rush into the water as soon as your feet hit the ground, it’s very important to be aware of water safety at all times. Know What Drowning Looks Like Unlike what you might have seen on television, people who are drowning don’t shout or thrash around. Someone can slip under the water’s surface in a second without anyone realizing what has happened. However, when we’re aware of this possibility and know what steps to take to avoid it, water activities can be safe and fun to participate in with family and friends. Keep a close eye on weak swimmers or young children, and never leave them alone while they’re around or in the water. Get Swim Lessons Everyone should learn the basics of moving through the water competently by taking swimming lessons.

Swimmers can learn valuable skills — like treading water, swimming for at least 25 yards, and turning over in the water — during swimming lessons, which will help them to stay safe while in the water. Lessons not only help keep swimmers safe, but they also help them recognize what proper swimming looks like, which can help them identify a drowning person. This increased awareness can go a long way toward helping others. React Quickly When someone’s drowning or in danger in the water, a bystander’s quick and appropriate response can help save their life. When near water, if your child is missing, check the water first then alert the lifeguard if there is one. If someone is drowning, then shout for help or rescue the person, so long as you can remain safe. If the person is unresponsive, call medical services and begin rescue breathing or CPR, if necessary.

To learn more about water safety, visit the American Red Cross website at RedCross.org and search for “water safety.” Have a fun and safe summer!

THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING YOU DO

When the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact the world and businesses started to close or suspend services across the country, there were many people who continued to go into work everyday. These essential individuals included grocery workers, food producers, and, of course, health care providers. The people who work in the health care industry certainly had their work cut out for them. As the number of infected patients requiring hospitalization increased, medical staff administered care, doing everything they could for these individuals while risking infection themselves. They put themselves in danger every day to provide excellent care to patients. Our team at Hare Wynn was moved by how hard these medical professionals worked. The courage, bravery, and compassion they showed to patients and their families — not just here in the U.S. but across the world — during a time filled with anxiety and fear

Hare Wynn knew that through this one effort, we could not only support the local medical teams but our local restaurants, as well. We reached out to and partnered with Trattoria Zaza and Taco Mama, two local restaurants that serve the greater Birmingham area. Trattoria Zaza and Taco Mama combined forces to provide meals for both the UAB and Children’s Hospital Emergency Room staff. Hare Wynn coordinated the lunch and Trattoria Zaza and Taco Mama provided, prepared, and delivered the meals to the hospitals. We are grateful for everything they did to help us create a plan and set that plan in motion. We’re writing this article well in advance, so we’re unsure what the situation may be when June arrives. However, it is never too late to thank medical professionals and people working in the food industry for everything they’ve done and will continue to do for us.

should be recognized. That is why our team felt it was important to support our local emergency room staff.

We began to create a plan and realized that we could do something that would help more than just those in the health care industry. As medical professionals did everything they could for us, the food industry was also taking a huge hit. Social distancing and self-quarantine kept people in their homes, and many local restaurants’ business was drastically reduced.

Practicing Social Media Safety

Social media is a powerful and very useful tool. Family members can stay connected even if they live across the country or around the world. People of all ages can update their family and friends on their lives and keep up with others’ lives too. However, while social media is useful and fun at times, it’s important to remember that social media postings can be used against you, especially if you’ve been in an accident. June is National Safety Month and June 30 marks Social Media Day, which makes this the perfect opportunity to focus on practicing social media safety. This topic comes up in many of our cases, though many people might not realize it applies to our industry. When someone files a personal injury claim, they often don’t realize how much harm their social media accounts can unintentionally do to them and their case. Keep in mind that attorneys and investigators regularly check the social media accounts and posts of all persons involved in an active case. A post that you might think has no impact could actually have significant consequences. The smallest remark about the accident or the injuries you’ve received — even something such as “I’m feeling much better today”— can be used as evidence to show that your injuries aren’t as bad as you first claimed. Additionally, you may accidentally contradict your own testimony. If, for example, you happen to break your leg but post about going to the pool with your family, the defense can use that information to challenge the testimony about your injuries. At Hare Wynn, once we take a client’s case, we always highly recommend that they do not post about it online. This includes any facts, details, or even the smallest amount of information about your case. We encourage all our clients not to mention anything online that has to do with their injuries or the accident itself at any point during their case in order to help avoid misinterpretations and prevent harming your case.

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statement not been false. If the government loans or grants money based on a falsified application, the damages can be three times the amount of the loan or grant. In addition to those damages, the court must also assess a civil penalty of not less than $5,500 and not more than $11,000 (currently $11,665–$23,331) for each false claim. For example, each falsified application for relief funds; each falsified application for a relief grant; each overinflated or falsified invoice; and each falsified quality certification, electronic health care claim for payment, UB-92, or CMS form 1500 submitted for payment would be a separate false claim subject to penalty. The same is true for any document created or submitted to support the claim. THEWHISTLEBLOWER’S SHARE For the whistleblower’s efforts in bringing the fraud and evidence to the attention of the government and prosecuting the lawsuit, a qualifying whistleblower is entitled to share in any recovery by way of verdict or settlement. The amount of the whistleblower’s share is between 15%–30% of the recovery depending on a number of factors and the amount of assistance the whistleblower and their lawyer provided to the government. HOWTO REPORT FRAUDTOTHE GOVERNMENT The attorneys at Hare Wynn have over 60 years of experience handling False Claims Act cases and have recovered over $1.7 billion for the United States Treasury. We can help you prepare your evidence for reporting to the government so your case receives the attention it deserves. Contact Hare Wynn for a free consultation on how we can represent you in reporting fraud to government so our stolen tax dollars can be recovered, and you can be rewarded for your efforts and evidence. We handle False Claims Act cases on a contingency basis. If you don’t recover a whistleblower award, then there is no fee for our services.

-Don McKenna

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Whistleblowers Serve Our National Interest

Have Fun and Swim Safe This Summer

A Chance to Give Back

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Go Planet-HoppingWith NASA

NASA Takes You on a (Virtual) Space Adventure

Exploring Deep Space Via Virtual Reality On Jan. 30, 2020, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope concluded its 16-year mission researching exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system. This data was used to create Exoplanet Excursions, an immersive virtual reality experience that lets your family experience the Spitzer’s discoveries and control the telescope yourself. These incredible excursions are available on Oculus or Steam, so visit Spitzer.Caltech. edu/vr to start your adventure and explore deep space today! Planet-Hopping With NASA Have you ever wondered would it be like to stand on another world? Then “book” your next vacation with the Exoplanet Travel Bureau! This program takes you on digital tours of real exoplanets NASA has discovered. Though we don’t know what the surfaces of these worlds look like, artists have used scientific data to create 3D landscapes to explore. See them all, from Kepler-16b to TRAPPIST-1e, at Exoplanets.NASA.gov/alien-worlds/exoplanet- travel-bureau.

Commercial space travel might still be the stuff of science fiction stories, but thanks to computer programs and augmented reality, your family can still experience what it’s like to explore space. NASA and other organizations provide a wealth of free resources that make space exploration come to life for stargazers and future astronauts alike. Take some time to explore a few of our favorites today. Touring the International Space Station First launched in 1998, the International Space Station is a multinational space research laboratory. Nineteen different nations have sent astronauts, cosmonauts, and space tourists to the space station to conduct scientific experiments. It’s truly the stuff science fiction dreams are made of! In 2012, Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams filmed a full tour of this amazing floating lab and even included a quick lesson on how to work out in zero gravity. “Visit” the space station for yourself at Bit.ly/ ISSTour.

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