In February 2021, Tycko & Zavareei LLP Partner Eva Gunasekera will speak at the virtual Federal Bar Association Qui Tam Conference. This annual conference has been lightheartedly called the “The Oscars for False Claims Act Gurus.” The panel is named “Falsity—Should the False Claims Act be Amended to Define What It is?” Panelists will explore issues surrounding what is required to prove that claims knowingly submitted are FALSE, a key element under the False Claims Act. Recently, three federal appellate courts have decided the issue of when opinions can be false under the False Claims Act, the Third, Ninth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal. Some United States Supreme Court observers think the falsity issue may reach the highest court.
Eva will serve as the representative for whistleblowers on the panel. Tejinder Singh, a Partner at Goldstein & Russell, P.C, and a Supreme Court orator, will moderate this panel. Co-panelists will include two of Eva’s former colleagues at the Department of Justice. Jason P. Mehta, a Partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, will represent the voice of the defense bar. Benjamin Wei, a Senior Trial Counsel in Civil Frauds, the office responsible for False Claims Act enforcement, will also share his views on the appellate courts’ competing views on what is required to prove falsity.
Eva was a perfect choice for this panel because she was a lead trial attorney on a three-month jury trial in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama where a jury squarely addressed the issue of the extent to which an expert opinion “that claims were false” is actionable. The case Eva tried was a qui tam lawsuit brought by a collection of whistleblowers in different parts of the country who alleged that a nationwide chain of hospices was fraudulently submitting claims for Medicare. The case was called United States v. AseraCare. The judge bifurcated the trial and the jury concluded that 104 of 123 patients in the trial sample were not terminally and should have been provided curative care. In other words, the for-profit hospice chain failed to deliver the right care at the right time. And the jury held it accountable.
Eva is the former DOJ Senior Counsel for Health Care Fraud. If you would like to speak with Eva about your case, email her at: [email protected].