A jury in U.S. District Court returned a multi-million-dollar verdict on behalf of whistleblower Barry Taul, who uncovered and reported an illegal kickback scheme and false billing that defrauded Medicare and taxpayers. After discovering the fraud perpetrated by Nagel Enterprises and Abanks Mortuary & Crematory, Mr. Taul suffered physical abuse at the hands of his employers, as well as death threats against him and his family in an effort to intimidate him so he would not report the wrongdoing. After he eventually left his job with that company and reported the fraud, he was disparaged and falsely maligned to future employers, resulting in his being wrongly terminated from other positions. Mr. Taul was represented by Beasley Allen lawyers Larry Golston, Lance Gould and Leon Hampton.
“Mr. Taul faced personal danger to do the right thing and report it when he witnessed illegal activity that was cheating government health care programs,” said Golston. “His employer went to great lengths to silence him, even to the point of threatening to cremate him alive! This was one of the most horrifying cases I’ve seen attempting to intimidate and retaliate against a whistleblower, who was just trying to do the right thing. We feel very gratified to have been able to help him bring these wrongdoers to justice.”
Mr. Taul began working for Nagel-Abanks in June 2006. The funeral home and crematorium had an arrangement with the Alabama Organ Center to collect tissues for life-saving transplants and medical research prior to the deceased being cremated. During the course of his employment, Mr. Taul uncovered a scheme whereby Defendants Nagel-Abanks and its owner Jed Nagel made illegal kickback payments to Demosthenes “Dem” Lalisan, Director of the Alabama Organ Center, and Richard Alan Hicks, Associate Director of the Alabama Organ Center, in exchange for contractual referral business from the Alabama Organ Center. He additionally discovered fraudulent charges were added to the company’s books in order to obtain unwarranted payment or Medicare reimbursement.
The scheme violated the federal False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute. It was estimated the scheme allowed Nagel-Abanks to bill up to $60,000 each month in false charges to the Alabama Organ Center, paid with government grants, Medicare and other federal and taxpayer dollars.
The complaint was filed in the United States District Court Northern District of Alabama Southern Division.