Posts from 2015.
CPM Appointed Lead Counsel In Resistors Antitrust Class Action

On December 21, 2015, Judge Ronald M. Whyte of the Federal Court for the Northern District of California appointed Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP. (“CPM”) lead counsel for the indirect purchasers in a class action alleging that a number of companies illegally conspired to inflate the prices consumers and businesses paid for resistors.

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Topics: Antitrust

CPM is a proud volunteer of the 2nd Harvest Food Bank.  Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties is the trusted leader dedicated to ending local hunger.

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Topics: Firm News

The United States Department of Justice has announced further criminal charges in connection with CPM’s spine surgery qui tam case. Federal prosecutors announced charges against five individuals, including Paul Richard Randall, a key defendant in CPM’s case. Randall has been charged with, and pleaded guilty to, the conduct described in CPM’s whistleblower complaint, filed in May 2012. CPM’s complaint, and the subsequent indictments, allege that Michael Drobot paid millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to doctors in order to steer spinal surgeries to his hospital—Pacific Hospital of Long Beach. Randall and several others were on the receiving end of those kickbacks.

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Whistleblower Barred From Receiving Portion of $322 Million Settlement

On June 1, 2015, District Court Judge John Walter of the Central District Court of California dismissed whistleblower James Swoben’s federal False Claims Act (FCA) case, finding that he was not the “original source” of the information. This dismissal effectively barred Swoben from receiving a portion of a $322 million settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Swoben’s former employee, Scan Health Plan.  

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On Wednesday, August 19, 2015, CPM and co-counsel Howard Law Firm and Jenkins Mulligan & Gabriel, LLP, filed a lawsuit against Costco, Chareon Pokphand (“CP”) Foods, PCL and C.P. Food Products, Inc. on behalf of consumer, Monica Sud and all others similarly situated. As described in the Complaint, Costco continues to knowingly purchase prawns from CP Foods—prawns that are directly tied to human trafficking and slave labor. As documented by the Guardian, the Associated Press and the Environmental Justice Foundation, CP Foods purchases fish meal, which  contains “trash fish,” farmed frequently from suppliers that own, operate or buy from pirate boats manned with slaves that catch the trash fish to use for fishmeal. CP Foods uses this trash fish to feed its prawns, which are then shipped to the U.S. and U.S. consumers. 

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Judge Allows Whistleblower Case Against BP to Proceed

In an order issued August 14, 2015, Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow of the San Francisco Superior Court cleared the path for CPM and California Attorney General Kamala Harris to pursue whistleblower claims against BP (formerly British Petroleum) for overcharging the State of California on purchases of natural gas. The case was filed in 2012 by a former-employee of BP, under the California False Claims Act. California Attorney General Kamala Harris joined the case in late 2014. The case accuses the oil company of massive overcharging of California cities, counties, universities, and government agencies on purchases of natural gas over the course of the past decade.

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Unanimous Jury Award for CPM Client

CPM attorneys Justin Berger and Eric Buescher completed a jury trial on August 5, 2015, winning a unanimous verdict awarding damages of half a million dollars on behalf of a local small business owner in a hotly disputed breach of contract case.  The lawsuit centered around a lease agreement for an advertising billboard owned by Defendant Ad-Way Signs that is located on the plaintiff’s property.  The plaintiff, CPM’s client, alleged that Ad-Way had failed to pay full rent according to the lease between the parties, believing that Ad-Way was delaying and underpaying rent in an attempt to leverage the small business owner into entering into long term lease that was more beneficial to Ad-Way.  CPM’s client never budged, relying on the legal protections provided to commercial landlords by Civil Code sections 827 and 1945 to prevail.  CPM often represents small business owners who are victimized by greed.

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Topics: Firm News
Ringleader Of Healthcare Fraud Conspiracy Arrested

On June 9, 2015, the FBI arrested Los Angeles-based chiropractor Bahar Gharib-Danesh, the alleged ringleader of a vast healthcare conspiracy first made public in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy (“CPM”). According to CPM’s lawsuit, which became public early this year, Danesh controls seven pain management clinics in Southern California. Together, these Clinics see hundreds of patients per day under the guise of “pain management” diagnosis and treatment. 

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$75.5 Million Settlement In Whistleblower Lawsuit Against Vmware, Inc.

The United States Department of Justice and Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP announced today a $75.5 million settlement of claims against VMware, Inc. and Carahsoft Technology Corporation, in a False Claims Act case prosecuted by Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP and the Law Office of Jeffrey F. Ryan on behalf of Relator Dane Smith. VMware is the market leader in “virtualization” technology, and the fifth-largest software company in the world. The action was filed in 2010 by Dane Smith, the former Vice President of Americas Sales for VMware. The settlement represents one of the five largest recoveries against a technology company in the history of the False Claims Act. 

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One of the most important factors in any case under the False Claims Act (federal or California), is whether the government decides to “intervene.” Oftentimes, however, when the government intervenes, it does not intervene on all of the qui tam plaintiff’s theories. The question then sometimes arises of how the non-intervened theories or claims should be treated. Defendants have argued that non-intervened claims must be dismissed. In fact, under both federal and California law, the qui tam plaintiff has full authority to proceed with non-intervened claims.  

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