It’s no secret that as a government fraud militarywhistleblowers’ law firm, we are big fans of the False Claims Act (“FCA”).  The FCA is a valuable tool that gives ordinary citizens the power to help fight back against frauds perpetrated on the federal government. While we often write about health care fraud matters, one of the most important things to know about the FCA is that it can apply to frauds involving a wide-range of subject matters.  In these complex times, the FCA’s power is especially critical for fighting instances of defense contractor fraud.

Government Files Suit Alleging Defense Contractor Committed Fraud in Conjunction with Contract to Train Iraqi Civilian Police Forces

Last week, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued a press release announcing that it had filed suit against DynCorp International Inc. (“DynCorp”), a government contractor headquartered in Northern Virginia, for allegedly submitting inflated claims for payment pursuant to a State Department contract.  In 2004, the State Department awarded DynCorp a contract to train civilian police forces in Iraq and provide other services related to that effort.  The government alleges that DynCorp knowingly permitted one of its main subcontractors to charge “excessive and unsubstantiated rates” for lodging, security, driving, and other services and that DynCorp included those charges in the claims for payment it submitted to the State Department.  Additionally, the DOJ alleges that DynCorp added a markup to these already excessive charges that further inflated the amount charged.

Trust is a fundamental part of almost all human relationships.  We trust that our spouse will be loyal, that our mechanic will be capable, and that other drivers will follow the rules of the road.  Perhaps there is no relationship in which trust is so important as that between a patient and a doctor.  We put our health and our lives in their hands, as well as the well-being of our children, because we believe they have adequate training and will remain true to their oath to do no harm.  Sadly, as our San Francisco wrongful death lawyer knows all too well, sometimes things go horribly awry.  While not every negative outcome is cause for a lawsuit, when medical providers fail to adhere to a proper standard of care and the result is harm to the patient, a medical malpractice lawsuit, wrongful death, or another civil claim may be appropriate.

Tragic Death of a Young Girl Following Dental Procedure in San Ramon

While it is far too early to know what went wrong and if someone is legally at fault, a tragedy occurred at a Northern California dental office last weekend.  According to SFGate.com, a three-year-old girl died last Saturday following a dental procedure at a medical office in San Ramon.  Emergency responders were called to the office around 10 AM on Saturday when someone reported that the child had stopped breathing following treatment.  The girl was taken to San Ramon Regional Medical Center where doctors pronounced her dead.  It is not known whether the child was under anesthesia nor do officials know the nature of the dental procedure performed that morning.  Medical and fire personnel declined to release details or comment on the case citing patient privacy laws.

Clean air is essential to life.  Reliable energy may not be the same type of basic building block, but it is nonetheless essential to our modern way of living in 2016.  At the Brod Law Firm, we believe that we should be able to have both clean air and reliable energy.  As an Oakland industrial pollution law firm, we advocate for Bay Area residents sickened by toxic pollution from oil refineries and other industrial sources.

Tesoro to Spend Millions to Improve Refinery Emissions as Part of Settlement Agreement

This week, KRON4 reported that the Tesoro refinery in Martinez is one of six company locations covered by a recently announced federal court settlement.  Tesoro has agreed to pay $425 million in order to settle a Department of Justice (“DOJ”) lawsuit charging the company with violating the Clean Air Act and other regulations.  The Texas-based company will pay $403 million to improve equipmpoisonent used to control dangerous air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic companies.  Additionally, Tesoro agreed to pay $10.45 million in civil penalties and spend $12.2 million on projects designed to mitigate the impact of air pollution at the community level.  The latter payment includes $1 million aimed at enabling the Mount Diablo Unified School District to purchase at least four new school buses so it can retire older buses that use polluting diesel fuel and replace them with buses that burn cleaner compressed natural gas.

At the Brod Law Firm, we believe that Bay Area roads should be safe for every traveler.  As a recent news report reminds us, this includes people living with disabilities.  Whether a person is in a wheelchair or on foot, whether a person is blind or sighted, everyone should be able to navigate our streets safely.  Our Santa Rosa pedestrian accident law firm is committed to protecting all of our residents and remembering that pedestrian safety includes wheelchair safety and other forms of access for people with physical challenges.

Advocates Work for Access and Safety in Santa Rosa

Sunday’s Press Democrat included an important reminder that pedestrian safety includes access for people with a range of physical abilities.  Reporters spoke to a man who is working with Santa Rosa officials to ensure the streets are safe for people with mobility, visblindaccession, and/or hearing impairments.  He pointed out that electric cars pose a special problem for people with visual challenges since they are often nearly silent so an individual who cannot see may not know a car is approaching.  Other challenges include overly steep ramps and intersections with no ramps at all that impede access for people in wheelchairs.  A lip at the base of a ramp can also trip up someone using a cane.  Even overgrown weeds can be a real challenge.

Anyone who hhospicehandsas ever watched a loved one fight through the final stages of a terminal illness knows how important kindness is during these times.  Some of the kindest and most caring people in the world work with terminal patients and their families in hospice care settings.  On behalf of everyone these people touch, we want to say thank you.  It is because we respect these workers so much and understand the importance of their work that we are particularly angered by the allegations in a recent false claims act case accusing a health care provider of hospice care fraud.  This case is a reminder of the very profound real world impact of health care fraud and it is one example of why we choose to serve as a health care fraud whistleblowers’ law firm.

Hospice Provider to Pay $18 Million to Settle Medicare Fraud Allegations

On July 13, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued a press release announcing that a hospice care provider has agreed to pay $18 million to settle pending allegations of False Claims Act violations.  The defendant, Evercare Hospice and Palliative Care (“Evercare”), now known as Optum Palliative and Hospice Care, is based in Minnesota and provides hospice care in several different states.  As the DOJ explains, hospice care is a special form of care aimed at providing comfort to the terminally ill.  Hospice care patients receive palliative care only and do not receive medical care aimed at treating their illnesses.  Medicare only allows patients with a life expectancy of six months or less to receive coverage for hospice care.

In previous posts, we haguardrailve discussed significant problems with certain guardrails used on U.S. highways.  Now, a government reporting agency is adding its voice to the outcry about dangerous guardrails.  As a San Francisco defective roads law firm, we are concerned about this continued problem and a “safety device” that appears to be anything but safe.

GAO Report Criticizes Government Response to Concern Over Guardrails

This week, ABC7 reported that, three years after the news channel first discussed problems with certain guardrails, the General Accounting Office (“GAO”) has come out with a report criticizing regulators for failing to protect Americans from a guardrail system that has been tied to numerous injuries and even death.  The GAO is an independent government agency that performs audits and investigations for the U.S. Congress.  Its report suggests that the Federal Highway Safety Administration has failed to sufficiently address the problem of defective guardrails and urges the Department of Transportation to improve its oversight of guardrails.  The report also criticizes states for being slow to install improved device.  Further, the GAO’s brief questions the crash-testing process used in the development of some guardrails and calls for improved testing using third-party verification.

We all know that the cost of housing in San Francisco has skyrocketed in recent years resulting in a shortage of affordable rental housing.  What you may not know is that these market forces have also resulted in a startling increase in the number of tenants facing eviction.  In far too many cases, landlords are using wrongful evictions to chase out existing tenants, particularly lower-income renters, and profit from rising prices.  Our San Francisco wrongful eviction lawyer helps tenants who have been illegally pushed out of their housing or otherwise harassed by a landlord in violation of city and/or state laws.

Article Examines the Rising Number of Eviction Notices in San Francisco

This week, the Peninsula Press, an award-winning project of the Stanford Journalism Program, published a fascinating (and upsetting) look at eviction notices in San Francisco.  According to their data, eviction notices have increased 60% since 2011, a major concern in a city where two-thirds of the population lives in rental housing.  In 2011, nearly six tenants a day received eviction notices for a total of 2,080 notices served last year.  Notably, the Mission, Sunset, South of Market, and Tenderloin neighbrentorhoods accounted for over a quarter of the eviction notices served in the past six years.  These numbers only count notices, not actual evictions, but it is also important to remember that one eviction may leave a whole family homeless.

poisonBreathing is one of the most fundamental life-sustaining activities and one we typically do with very little forethought.  A fresh breath of air can not only nourish our bodies, but also center our minds.  Yet, far too often, our air is contaminated by a range of different toxins.  Hazardous airborne chemicals, including dangerous substances in the toxic gas released by burning plastics, can be harmful and even deadly.  As an Oakland toxic exposure law firm, the Brod Law firm works to get compensation for people made ill by air that was made toxic by human negligence or even intentional acts.

Safety Concerns Following Fire at Plastics Plant in Newark

There were many people expressing concerns about toxic air following a fire in Newark this past Friday.  SFGate reports that it took fire crews two-and-a-half hours to contain a two-alarm fire at a plastics recycling plant on the 6500 block of Smith Avenue.  According to the report, the plant used to house the Western Pacific Pulp and Paper Company which now subleases the building to AHG Recycling, a company that deals with plastics products.

Regular readers of this blog know that part of what makes the False Claims Act such a powerful tool is its qui tam provision which allows individuals to bring claims for repayment on the government’s behalf.  This is important because the government cannot police every single claim it pays and individuals who witness fraud and act on that knowledge are critical to the fight against fraud.  A recent trend in litigation under the Act involves individuals in a very different sense – individual liability under the False Claims Act.  Our whistleblowers’ law firm for fraud on the government is watching this trend and is prepared to help honest individuals fight fraud committed by both organizations and individuals.

DOJ Focuses in on Individual Liability for Corporate Wrongdoing

At the beginning of the year, Becker’s Hospital Review, a leader in healthcare industry information, published a piece entitled “5 False Claims Act Trends, Cases that will Fuel Recoveries in 2016.”  One of the trends identified in this article is a “spotlight on individual liability” whereby the government is increasingly holding individuals, not just the companies they work for, liable for fraud.  This stance grows, in part, out of a Department of Justice (“DOJ”) memorandum issued in September 2015 that discusses steps the DOJ is taking to increase legal accountability for individual corporate wrongdoing.  One change announced in the memo is that corporations will only receive credit for cooperating with an investigation if they reveal the names of the individuals involved in the fraud.

All parents worry that their children will be seriously injured while playing high school sports. But rough play on the field is not the only potential source of a sports injury that a student-athlete needs to worry about. In many cases, defective equipment—and even the playing field itself—may pose a significant risk to your child’s safety.

High School Sues After Paying $592,000 for Defective Field

In recent years many schools have replaced their natural grass athletic fields with synthetic turf. Artificial turf is considered easier to maintain and allows schools to use their fields for more events. Some artificial turf proponents also claim it reduces the risk of player injury. footballhelmet