$11,750,000 Verdict Involving Wrongful Release

posted on:
January 15, 2008

author:
Staff

category:
Personal Injury and Product Liability | Landmark Verdict

1983 – In this case, our client's son was killed by Defendant who had recently been let out of a mental institution. Immediately prior to him being let out of the institution, he had written a letter to his girlfriend, which the mental institution had a copy of, stating that he was going to kill someone. Within a day or two of being released, he killed our client's son. The jury was outraged by this conduct and awarded a substantial verdict to try to stop this from ever happening again.

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Government targets Ambulance Transport Fraud

posted on:
June 14, 2016

author:
Andrew Brashier

Last year Medicare paid more than $50 million in potentially improper bills from ambulance companies. These potential improper bills regarded ambulance rides for older Americans.

According to a report by the Inspector General, one in five ambulance services, which were billing Medicare, had some type of problematic bill. This is one in five ambulances out of nearly 16,000. Because of these numbers, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last year that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is pursuing a new strategy to combat this ambulance transport fraud. This new strategy has already been implemented and is making a difference in Pennsylvania.

Under Medicare, ambulance rides are covered when (1) other kinds of transportation would endanger the patient’s health and (2) when the patient is traveling to and from medical facilities. Ambulance transport fraud occurs when an ambulance company transports a patient who could have otherwise traveled safely to the medical facility themselves, or at least without the aid of an ambulance, and then falsifies the reports to make it appear that the patient medically needed to be transported by ambulance.

In the last couple of years, the government has been targeting ambulance transport fraud. An effective strategy, which has been implemented in Philadelphia, is new ambulance companies are not allowed to be paid by Medicare, and all repetitive nonemergency trips must receive prior authorization before the trip will be authorized by Medicare.

This strategy not only deters the fraud by requiring prior authorization, it also prohibits new companies from being developed for the sole purpose of defrauding the government. Many ambulance companies, when shut down by the government, start back up under a new name. This new rule disallows that from happening.

For example, Bassem Kuran, a driver for Brotherly Love Ambulance Inc., is to be arraigned this month for his activities with VIP Ambulance Inc., a company he started when the government closed Brotherly Love Ambulance Inc. due to Medicare fraud allegations. Kuran has allegedly been defrauding the government through ambulance transit fraud. One allegation is Kuran billed Medicare for transporting a patient for dialysis who did not even need dialysis. Transporting a single patient for dialysis for a year could equal $67,000 in revenue from billing Medicare.

According to Pennsylvania Department of Health data, 83 ambulance companies have closed since early 2014. Since this new program has been implemented in three states (Pennsylvania, New Jersey and South Carolina), the average monthly Medicare cost, in the aggregate for those three states, for scheduled, repetitive ambulance trips has plunged from $18.9 million to $5.4 million.

The qui tam provision of the False Claims Act (FCA) allows private individuals to file lawsuits on behalf of the government when those individuals have knowledge of a person or company defrauding the government. Therefore, private citizens can aide the government in stamping out ambulance transport fraud. The FCA provides monetary incentives for these private individuals, known as whistleblowers, which include 15 to 30 percent of the damages recovered.

Are you aware of fraud being committed against the federal Government, or a state Government? If so, the FCA can protect and reward you for doing the right thing by reporting the fraud. If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, please contact an attorney at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. There is a contact form on this website, or you may email one of the lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team: Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, Lance Gould or Andrew Brashier.

Sources:
Philly.com
Philly.com
Washington Post
U.S. Department of Justice

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Public advised not to drink tap water following EPA drinking water health advisory

posted on:
June 14, 2016

author:
Staff

category:
Environmental

On June 2, the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water and Sewer Authority advised the pubic served by the water system to stop drinking tap water until further notice due to the presence of potentially hazardous levels of toxic chemicals in the water. About 100,000 people are served by the water system in Lawrence and Morgan Counties, including about 10,000 direct residential customers. Consumers are advised not to drink the tap water or use it for cooking. Boiling the water or using a household water filtration system will not remove the contaminants. Beasley Allen is currently investigating and talking with representatives from multiple water systems about the developing situation.

The “stop drinking” warning follows a May 19 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water health advisory for man-made chemicals known as PFOS and PFOA. Eight water systems in Alabama were found to have chemical levels that exceed the EPA’s standard for safety, a limit of 70 parts per trillion. The previous EPA advisory level also was based on short-term exposure. The new advisory warns of health risks connected to consuming drinking water containing the chemicals for a prolonged period, which the EPA says reflects emerging science that lower concentrations can still have long-term impacts.

“The recent ‘stop drinking’ warning from the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water and Sewer Authority further emphasizes the importance of the new EPA drinking water health advisory,” said Rhon Jones, Principal & Toxic Torts Section Head for Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. “The water systems in Alabama that are impacted by the new health advisory are being placed in a difficult positon, because the PFOA/PFOS present in their systems were put there by companies that I believe have known for many years the potential harm these chemicals can cause. It is unfair to those water systems, and the thousands of people who depend on them.”

These chemicals were primarily used to manufacture non-stick cookware, stain resistant products, firefighting foam, waterproof clothing and other products. They do not break down naturally, and concentrations of these chemicals can build up in people over time.

Even before the new EPA advisory, the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority filed a federal lawsuit last year against 3M, alleging the manufacturing facility in Decatur, Ala., was a major producer of both PFOS and PFOA until 2002. The lawsuit alleges negligence, public nuisance and trespass.

For more information about this issue, contact Rhon Jones, Principal and Toxic Torts Section Head, at Rhon.Jones@beasleyallen.com, or Helen Taylor, Public Relations Coordinator, at Helen.Taylor@beasleyallen.com.

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At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Beasley Allen lawyers finalists for 2016 Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award

posted on:
June 9, 2016

author:
Staff

category:
Community

Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., has been selected as a finalist for the 2016 Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year award for our work on litigation related to Johnson & Johnson talcum powder and its link to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Nominees are Jere L. Beasley, Ted G. Meadows, David P. Dearing, Danielle Ward Mason and Brittany Scott from Beasley Allen, along with R. Allen Smith, Jr., of The Smith Law Firm from Ridgeland, Miss.; and Stephanie Rados, James G. Onder, Michael J. Quillin and W. Wylie Blair of the St. Louis firm Onder, Shelton, O’Leary & Peterson, LLC. The trial team led the litigation against Johnson & Johnson, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc., and Imerys Talc America, Inc.

On May 2, a jury in City of St. Louis Circuit Court found Johnson & Johnson liable for ovarian cancer linked to genital use of its talcum powder products. The jurors awarded Gloria Ristesund $55 million, which included $5 million in actual damages and $50 million in punitive damages. Earlier, in February, another jury awarded the family of Jacqueline Fox $72 million, holding Johnson & Johnson liable for her ovarian cancer death. In that verdict, $62 million was punitive damages. The purpose of awarding punitive damages is to punish a company for wrongdoing and to compel it to change its actions.

This is the second time Beasley Allen attorneys have been nominated for this award. The trial team that worked on Toyota litigation related to sudden unintended acceleration were nominated for the 2014 Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award. That trial team included Jere L. Beasley, J. Cole Portis, R. Graham Esdale, and Benjamin E. Baker of Beasley Allen; Larry Tawwater of The Tawwater Law Firm in Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Paul Martin of Martin Jean Jackson in Ponca City, Okla. This team led the charge against Toyota on behalf of the Bookout and Schwarz families. Bookout v. Toyota Motor Corp. was the first suit to go to trial against Toyota tying sudden unintended acceleration to electronic throttle control problems.

Public Justice pursues high impact lawsuits to combat social and economic injustice, protect the Earth’s sustainability, and challenge predatory corporate conduct and government abuses. Public Justice presents its Trial Lawyer of the Year Award to the attorney(s) who made the greatest contribution to the public interest within the past year by trying or settling a precedent-setting, socially significant case. The finalists will be honored and the award presented at the annual Public Justice gala at the Millennium Biltmore in Los Angeles, on July 24, 2016. A full list of the nominees and more information can be found at www.publicjustice.net.

 

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At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Unnecessary inpatient admissions results in government intervention in False Claims Act lawsuit

posted on:
June 7, 2016

author:
Larry Golston

category:
Fraud

Late last month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that the United States has decided to intervene in a False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit against Prime Healthcare Services Inc. (Prime). The United States alleges that Prime improperly admitted patients into its hospitals, resulting in false claims being submitted to Medicare.

Prime allegedly pressured its Emergency Department physicians and administrators to raise inpatient admissions. This pressure forced doctors to admit patients when admission was not medically necessary.

When a person visits the emergency room, the doctor has options on how to treat them. The doctor could treat the patient as an outpatient, place the patient in observation, discharge the patient, or admit the patient. When corporations such as Prime place undue pressure on doctors to raise admission rates, doctors are forced to admit patients even if admission was not medically necessary. Under the DOJ’s theory, because these admissions were medically unnecessary, Prime submitted false claims to federal health care programs like Medicare.

When hospitals conduct practices such as these, they not only contribute to the rising cost of health care, but they also put the patient in risk. U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker for the Central District of California stated, “Fraudulent billing practices, such as those alleged in this civil lawsuit, harm taxpayers who fund health care programs, such as Medicare.”

As Medicare is forced to pay claims for unnecessary medical treatment, the cost of that medical treatment rises as the pool of taxpayer funds is diminished. It then falls upon the taxpayer to replenish the pool.

The Government works vigorously in its war against fraud. One of the most powerful weapons in its arsenal is the FCA, which empowers private citizens to report fraud committed against the Government. The ordinary individual becomes extraordinary as they come to be a whistleblower and file suit on behalf of the United States. The FCA permits the Government to intervene in these qui tam cases, which it has done in this case.

As a reward for doing the right thing, the whistleblower is entitled to 15 to 30 percent of whatever the government recovers for their part in the case. The DOJ has recovered more than $29 billion through the FCA since January 2009. Of that $29 billion, more than $17.5 billion was recovered in cases concerning fraud against federal health care programs.

Are you aware of fraud being committed against the federal Government, or a state Government? If so, the FCA can protect and reward you for doing the right thing by reporting the fraud. If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, please contact an attorney at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. There is a contact form on this website, or you may email one of the lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team: Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, Lance Gould or Andrew Brashier.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Public Citizen documents history of Pharma fraud

posted on:
June 6, 2016

author:
Kurt Niland

category:
Fraud

The non-profit citizens’ advocacy organization Public Citizen has published a report documenting all the major financial settlements and court judgements between pharmaceutical companies and federal and state governments from 1991 through 2015.

The report provides the most complete view to date of the extent of drug company fraud and other misconduct aimed at Medicare, Medicaid, and other taxpayer-funded healthcare programs in the last quarter century.

Public Citizen found that drug makers entered into 373 settlements totaling $35.7 million in recoveries, including criminal and civil penalties for both federal and state health care programs. The organization noted that only settlements of at least $1 million for the period prior to July 19, 2012, were included in the report’s figures, indicating that the total recoveries are almost certainly higher.

Of the 373 settlements, 140 were federal settlements that recovered $31.9 billion and 233 were state settlements that resulted in returns totaling $3.8 billion.

Public Citizen emphasized a number of other key findings its research revealed:

Financial penalties declined sharply since 2013. In the most recent two-year period (2014-2015), just $2.4 billion in federal financial penalties were recovered, less than one-third of the $8.7 billion in federal penalties collected in 2012-2013 and the lowest two-year total since 2004-2005.

Public Citizen catalogued 20 state settlements totaling $424 million from 2014-2015, but 95 settlements totaling $1.2 billion from 2012-2013. That means during 2014-2015 there was an 80 percent drop in the number of state settlements over the previous two-year period.

Almost all of the decrease in the total number of settlements in 2014 and 2015 could be attributed to the sharp decrease in the number of single-state settlements involving overcharging government health programs, from a combined 73 settlements in 2012 and 2013 to just five in 2014 and 2015, a 93 percent drop.

The most common violation in the 25-year period was overcharging government health care programs. The majority of this fraud targeted state Medicaid programs. However, the unlawful, off-label promotion of drugs was the one violation that resulted in the highest penalties.

A decline in the number of federal settlements involving the unlawful promotion of drugs and medical devices accounted for the sharp decline in financial penalties in 2014-2015. Federal financial penalties from these violations declined 90 percent from about $2.8 billion in 2012-2013 to $263 million in 2014-2015.

Criminal penalties, all of which were federal during the 25-year period analyzed, dropped more than 98 percent from $2.7 billion in 2012-2013 to $44 million in 2014-2015.

Fifty-eight percent of the federal settlements (81 of 140) and 71 percent of federal penalties ($22.8 billion out of $31.9 billion) were the result of False Claims Act cases initiated by whistleblowers in the 25-year period. There were far fewer whistleblower settlements and penalties on the state level.
According to Public Citizen, just 17 of 233 (7 percent) state settlements and $793 million of $3.8 billion (21 percent) in state financial penalties originated from whistleblower cases. Of the state recoveries, Texas accounted for nine of 17 (53 percent) settlements and $409 million of $793 million (52 percent) in financial penalties.

GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer reached the most settlements (31 each) and paid the most in financial penalties — $7.9 billion and $3.9 billion, respectively — to the federal and state governments.

Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Abbott, Eli Lilly, Teva, Schering-Plough, Novartis, and AstraZeneca also paid more than $1 billion in financial penalties. Thirty-one companies entered into repeat settlements with the federal government during the period analyzed, with Pfizer (11), Merck (9), GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Bristol-Myers Squibb (8 each) finalizing the most federal settlements.

Source: Public Citizen

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At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Mississippi Supreme Court upholds $30 million judgment against Sandoz in AWP litigation

posted on:
June 1, 2016

author:
Staff

category:
Fraud

Our firm has been serving as Special Counsel to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood for several years on the Average Wholesale Price (AWP) litigation and have recovered from 61 companies for the State of Mississippi more than $200 million to date, including a $30 million verdict against generic pharmaceutical giant Sandoz, Inc., back in 2011.

That verdict was appealed by Sandoz, Inc., and the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the verdict in full last October. Sandoz, Inc., asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to rehear the appeal last November, but on May 26, 2016, the court denied Sandoz’s rehearing request, effectively exhausting their last chance at an appeal.

General Hood applauded the Mississippi Supreme Court’s refusal to reconsider its October 2015 decision that affirmed the state’s $30 million verdict. “It is reassuring to know that when a big drug company like Sandoz cheats the taxpayers, justice will prevail,” Attorney General Hood said. “The court made the right decision to turn back a greedy corporation that focused on its own profits at the expense of the people of Mississippi.”

This case came to the Mississippi Supreme Court following a nine-day bench trial in Rankin County Chancery Court. Chancellor Tom Zebert concluded that Sandoz defrauded Mississippi, and cost taxpayers $24 million when it reported Average Wholesale Prices, or AWPs, that grossly exceeded the actual prices Sandoz charged its customers.

Those manipulated prices caused the state to pay more for prescription drugs for Medicaid recipients. As a result of this fraud, the trial court awarded the state compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages.

The case against Sandoz was among dozens of similar cases brought against other drug companies that also manipulated their reported AWPs so that Mississippi paid too much for prescription drugs for Medicaid recipients.

Our firm represented eight states in this same litigation and recovered more than $1.5 billion in settlements and jury verdicts for the states. The AWP trial team was led by Dee Miles with Roman Shaul, Clay Barnett, Ali Hawthorne and Chad Stewart (1972-2014) assisting.

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

New York based bank pays $64 million to settle False Claims Act allegations concerning Insured Mortgage Lending

posted on:
May 31, 2016

author:
Lance Gould

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced earlier this month that M&T Bank Corp. (M&T Bank), a bank headquartered in New York, has agreed to settle False Claims Act (FCA) allegations for $64 million. These allegations concern M&T Bank’s lending practices and claim M&T Bank was knowingly originating and underwriting loans that did not meet certain requirements to be insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

Some banks have the option to participate as a direct endorsement lender (DEL). DELs are able to underwrite, originate, and endorse mortgages for FHA insurance. If a person defaults on one of these mortgages, the holder of the loan (the bank) may submit an insurance claim to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which is the parent agency for the FHA. The problem is, under this program, these loans are not reviewed by the FHA before they are endorsed for FHA insurance.

Therefore, there are strict requirements the loans must meet before a DEL can certify the mortgages for FHA insurance. Moreover, the DEL must maintain a quality control program and report any deficient loans identified by that program.

Principle Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, stated, “Mortgage lenders that fail to follow FHA program rules put taxpayer funds at risk and increase the chances of borrowers losing their homes.”

In this case, the allegations were M&T Bank failed to comply with the requirements set forth by the FHA. In addition, it was alleged that M&T Bank created a quality control system that detected significantly lower major error rates. Moreover, even though M&T Bank did detect numerous loans with major errors, the bank failed to report these loans to HUD. Therefore, HUD insured hundreds of loans that were not qualified for the FHA insurance.

The FCA contains a qui tam provision, which allows private citizens to sue on behalf of the government when they have knowledge of an entity committing fraud against the government. The qui tam provision provides incentives for ordinary citizens to become whistleblowers by reporting the fraud. These incentives include 15 to 30 percent of the monies recovered and protection against retaliation.

This case was originally filed under the qui tam provision of the FCA by a former employee of M&T Bank. Though the share to be awarded to the whistleblower has not yet been determined, the employee stands to receive anywhere from $9.5 million to $19 million as an award for her participation in the case.

Are you aware of fraud being committed against the federal government, or a state government? If so, the FCA can protect and reward you for doing the right thing by reporting the fraud.

If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, please contact an attorney at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. There is a contact form on this website, or you may email one of the lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team: Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, Lance Gould or Andrew Brashier.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice

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At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Lawsuits target drug makers over testosterone side effects

posted on:
May 31, 2016

author:
Staff

Testosterone drugs heavily advertised by pharmaceutical companies for men who have “Low T,” or low testosterone, to fight symptoms that come naturally as a man ages, have been linked to serious heart risks and are among the top Dangerous Drug & Medical Device Lawsuits cited by the Drug Lawsuit Source.

“Recent medical and scientific studies have shown that there are several serious health risks to men caused by these drugs,” the website warns. “In fact, recent studies have identified a link between testosterone replacement therapy and increased risk of heart attacks. Other side effects of the drugs include non-fatal myocardial infarction, strokes, blood clots, enlarged breasts and mood swings. As a result of these conditions, death can occur.”

Testosterone replacement therapies are available in patches, topical solutions, topical gels, tablets, injections and pellets. Brand names include Androgel, Axiron, Bio-T-Gel, Delatestryl, Depo-Testosterone, Fortesta, Striant, Testim and Testopel. These prescription drugs are intended to increase testosterone levels in men with hypogonadism, a condition in which men do not produce enough of the hormone due to disease or injury, resulting in symptoms such as low libido, muscle loss, and fertility issues.

Testosterone levels naturally decrease as a man ages. Drug companies have aggressively advertised testosterone as a treatment for older men with low testosterone levels. However, studies show that boosting testosterone levels in men with age-related hypogonadism may expose them to serious health risks such as heart attacks, strokes and death.

Manufacturers of testosterone replacement products are facing a growing number of lawsuits alleging the companies did not adequately warn doctors or the public of the potential heart risks associated with testosterone treatment.

Source: Drug Lawsuit Source

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

Increased penalties: the False Claims Act obtains a more powerful bite

posted on:
May 25, 2016

author:
Staff

Taxpayers and whistleblowers rejoiced earlier this month following the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announcement of increased penalties under the federal False Claims Act.

The False Claims Act is a powerful tool in the government’s war against fraud. The False Claims Act incentivizes integrity by empowering ordinary citizens to blow the whistle on fraud committed against the United States government.

The text of the False Claims Act provided for penalties not less than $5,000 and not more than $10,000. The Department of Justice later increased that range to $5,500 to $11,000, and now the range has been adjusted once again.

On Monday, May 2, 2016, the Department of Justice published the new penalty range for False Claims Act violations, which now provides for penalties not less than $10,781 and not more than $21,563. This new increase takes effect on Aug. 1, 2016, and will last until Jan. 1, 2017. After Jan. 1, 2017, the penalties are indexed to increase annually to keep pace with inflation. These new penalties will be published in the Federal Register on an annual basis on or before Jan. 15 of each calendar year.

Beasley Allen principal Archie Grubb lauded the increased penalties: “The False Claims Act is like a watchdog against fraud, and the penalties are the teeth. With these long-overdue penalty increases, the teeth are now twice as sharp as before.”

These new penalties serve to protect citizens and the government in three ways:

First, there is a correlation between penalties and the tax pool. When an unscrupulous person or corporation defrauds the government, they steal from our tax pool. They are depleting monies gathered to fund our health care, our defense, and other benefits our tax dollars afford us. Higher penalties for committing fraud help replenish the tax pool.

Second, these new penalties deter others from committing fraud against the government. Fraudulent acts committed many times over, such as improper billing, coding, or documenting of medical procedures, may result in penalties in the millions of dollars.

Third, the False Claims Act provides incentives for citizens to step forward and blow the whistle on fraud. These incentives include 15 to 30 percent of the funds recovered by the government. Larger penalties equal larger rewards for whistleblowers. These larger rewards will incentive whistleblowers to remain vigilant, which is a win-win situation for taxpayers and the government. Whistleblowers receive larger rewards while the tax pool is more adequately recompensed.

Are you aware of fraud being committed against the federal government, or a state government? If so, the False Claims Act and other laws can protect and reward you for doing the right thing by reporting the fraud.

If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, please contact an attorney at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. There is a contact form on this website, or you may email one of the lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team: Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, Lance Gould or Andrew Brashier.

Sources:
20 C.F.R. § 356.3
31 U.S.C. § 3729
31 U.S.C. § 3730

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.

EPA issues new Drinking Water Health Advisory for man-made chemicals

posted on:
May 24, 2016

author:
Staff

category:
Environmental

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a new drinking water health advisory for man-made chemicals known as PFOS and PFOA, establishing a limit of 70 parts per trillion. The advisory also alerts consumers to the fact that exposure to elevated levels of these compounds can lead to a number of health problems over time. These chemicals were primarily used to manufacture non-stick cookware, stain resistant products, firefighting foam, waterproof clothing and other products. They do not break down naturally, and concentrations of these chemicals can build up in people over time.

“While we are grateful that the EPA issued these PFOA/PFOA health advisories, frankly this should have been done many years ago,” said Rhon Jones, Principal & Toxic Torts Section Head for Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. “The manufacturers of these chemicals have known for many years about the potential harm of the chemicals they created. My hope is that this new health advisory will allow regulators to protect human health and the environment.”

EPA data indicated 13 water systems nationwide with levels of PFOA above the new 70 parts per trillion threshold, and 46 showed elevated levels of PFOS. Eight Alabama drinking water systems were among those found to contain chemicals above safe levels. They are:

  • West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority
  • Gadsden Water Works & Sewer Board
  • Centre Sewer Board
  • V.A.W. (Vinemont Anon West Point) Water Systems, Inc.
  • West Lawrence Water Co-op
  • Northeast Alabama Water District (in Fort Payne)
  • Southside Water Works and Sewer Board (in Gadsden)
  • The Utilities Board of Rainbow City

The previous EPA advisory level also was based on short-term exposure. The new advisory warns of health risks connected to consuming drinking water containing the chemicals for a prolonged period, which the EPA says reflects emerging science that lower concentrations can still have long-term impacts.

The new health advisories are meant as guidelines for drinking water system operators. While EPA health advisories are non-enforceable and non-regulatory, it is hoped that by establishing limits for these chemicals, they will allow water system operators to establish policies to protect human health and the environment. EPA health advisories provide technical information to state agencies and other public health officials on health effects, analytical methodologies and treatment technologies associated with drinking water contamination.

Even before the new EPA advisory, the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority filed a federal lawsuit last year against 3M, alleging the manufacturing facility in Decatur, Ala., was a major producer of both PFOS and PFOA until 2002. The lawsuit alleges negligence, public nuisance and trespass.

For more information about the Drinking Water Health Advisory and other environmental health issues, contact Rhon Jones at rhon.jones@beasleyallen.com.

Sources:
AL.com
EPA

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At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.
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