United States of America ex rel. Todd Heath vs Wisconsin Bell, Inc.
The Seventh Circuit overturned a district judge's ruling regarding a whistleblower’s False Claims Act suit alleging that AT&T subsidiary Wisconsin Bell Inc. overcharged schools and libraries for telecommunications and information services under the Federal Communications Commission’s E-rate program. Goldberg Kohn attorneys David Chizewer and Roger Lewis are representing whistleblower Todd Heath.
In 2022 a district court found that Heath failed to show Wisconsin Bell had submitted claims for subsidies while falsely certifying compliance with a “lowest corresponding price” as per the regulations set by the Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support program, however, the Seventh Circuit found that Heath had, in fact, identified enough specific evidence of discriminatory pricing. With the Seventh Circuit ruling, Wisconsin Bell will again face the fraud charge.
David Chizewer was quoted in a Law360 article stating Wednesday that "school districts and libraries all over this country are strapped for funding, and the federal government subsidized phone and internet services in recognition of the problem and required carriers to offer them the best prices. 'When carriers deliberately fail to do that, they not only deprive our children of vital educational resources, they also violate the False Claims Act," Chizewer said. "We are pleased that the Court of Appeals recognized the importance of this mandate and endorsed our theory of the case. We look forward to proving it to a jury.'"'
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU ENCOUNTER ILLEGAL KICKBACKS?
Under the False Claims Act, employees or other persons with knowledge who become aware of conduct that violates the Anti-Kickback Statute and leads to false claims on the government can file a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the government to address these practices. Whistleblowers who sue on behalf of the government may receive between 15 to 30 percent of the money recovered by the government if the suit is successful.
The whistleblower attorneys at Goldberg Kohn can help. If you are aware of kickbacks or false claims being made on the government, call Goldberg Kohn at 312-284-3258 or contact us online. We are always willing to provide you with a free, confidential consultation to discuss a potential case.