In 2009, Frohsin & Barger client, April Brown was a nurse and single-mother of two, struggling to make ends meet in the sleepy town of Monroeville, Alabama, best known as home to writer Harper Lee and the inspiration for her fictional town of Maycomb in To Kill a Mockingbird. Brown travelled rural Alabama caring for homebound patients: elderly shut-ins and the indigent infirm. What she witnessed about her employer’s Medicare billing, however, eventually caused her to become a whistleblower in the groundbreaking case of United States ex rel. April Brown v. Amedisys, Inc., CV-10-BE-0135-S (NDAL 2009), which today resulted in the largest home health fraud settlement in U.S. history, prompting the company – which denied all wrongdoing – to return $150,000,000 to the taxpayers, according to court documents.
Brown and other whistleblowers who followed her lead will be awarded more than $26 million for exposing the alleged fraud under the terms of the settlement filed today with the court. As the first to come forward, Ms. Brown will receive the lion’s share of the award at just over $15 million, according to her attorneys. “April Brown is one of the most deserving people I know,” said her attorney Jim Barger. “After she blew the whistle, she worked the hardest of nursing shifts plus a weekend job cleaning beach rentals to make ends meet, but she took it in great stride with a roll of her eyes and characteristic laugh.”
According to Barger, things became so difficult for Brown after losing her job at Amedisys that at one point her home was under threat of foreclosure. “The most amazing part is that I don’t think April ever allowed herself to believe she’d receive an award – she just did what she knew was right even though it caused her great hardship in the process. She’s a tough, honest, smart woman, and this country needs more people like her.”
Other than ending her financial worries, Barger says Brown doesn’t expect the settlement to change her situation much. “She plans to lead a quiet farm life with her two children and to keep serving as a nurse to the poor and elderly in her community.” The lawsuit was brought by the firm of Frohsin & Barger under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private citizens to file suit on behalf of the United States for fraud against the taxpayers.
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