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Geissler v. Sterling

District of South Carolina.

GBB lawyers contributed to this class action lawsuit, filed against the Department of Correction, alleging that South Carolina prisoners recieved inadequate testing and treatment for hepatitis C (HCV). The complaint accuses DOC director Bryan Sterling of “deliberate indifference” by neglecting to implement regular testing and effective treatment protocols, because it would have incurred a significant cost to the DOC budget. The original plaintiffs, three inmates in SC state prison, argued that the DOC had violated their 8th Amendment Rights by failing to provide proper treatment. Further, the South Carolina DOC written policy states that HCV is not tested for “except under limited circumstances,” which runs contrary to CDC guidelines.

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Free Virtual Seminar by Online Courtroom Project and NITA

As courts around the country have struggled to continue operations in the face of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, each state and the federal courts have issued their own set of guidelines to try and resume trials. However, each jurisdiction, and each judge has also implemented their own set of practices, given their resources, staffing, budget, and judgement. While most of these national, regional, and individual practices have been conducted on a trial and error basis, the goal of this conference is to provide practical recommendations on procedures, resources, and skills for both courts and attorneys who are looking to conduct jury trials in this challenging time.

Dates: November 13, and 20th, 2020

This conference is free of charge. Attendees are encouraged to donate to a designated charity to assist underserved communities gain greater access to technology and the internet.

CLE credit will not be provided for this summit.

Reuben Guttman, from Guttman, Buschner & Brooks, PLLC, will be presenting a panel discussion on Implication for Post-Covid Litigation and Trials.

For Agenda information for this two-day free seminar, visit https://www.nita.org/summit-about?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTURreE56bG1OV1ZtTldOaiIsInQiOiJHait4UTcyR1VsNkZwR2M5cWNEMlEwYVwvS25XSTE2dUtsMGNpZmlYdE44aERFQUZudCtFWEIxQUNPXC9ocjJpZHlWa2JKOWZ2OGt4bWxjY2NwVUNyaktXU1BQZ2pUNEZmdmp1c0s1MUN3NXV1c0lnMHQ4ZVwvRFNtRFJtbzhcL3BLZmcifQ%3D%3D

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Santee Christian College to Pay $225,000 Over Federal Violations on Recruiting

San Diego Christian College in Santee will pay $225,000 to resolve allegations that it compensated a student recruiting company in violation of a federal ban on incentive-based compensation, the Department of Justice announced Monday.

The university’s settlement resolves allegations that it hired student recruiting company Joined Inc. between 2014 and 2016 to recruit prospective students to SDCC and paid the company a share of the tuition SDCC received from enrolled, recruited students.

Title IV of the Higher Education Act prohibits institutions receiving federal student aid from compensating student recruiters with a commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based on the recruiters’ success in securing student enrollment, according to the Department of Justice.

“Higher education enrollment decisions should put students first,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Offering recruiters financial incentives to enroll students undermines students’ ability to make educational decisions in their own best interests.”

The settlement stems from a lawsuit brought by an unnamed whistleblower, who will receive $33,750 of the settlement proceeds, according to the DOJ.

In a statement, a college spokesman said Tuesday: “Due to the anticipated costs of prolonged litigation as well as the distraction from the pursuit of its mission, SDCC’s Board of Trustees decided that it is in its best interest to come to this resolution. In addition to denying the allegations of the complaint, SDCC assures its students, faculty, staff, alumni, stakeholders, and the public that at no time did it submit a “false claim” to the government nor misuse federal taxpayer funds. This settlement concludes the government investigation into SDCC’s relationship with [Maurice] Shoe,”  co-owner of Joined Inc., a California-based student recruiting company.

Reuben Guttman, who represents the whistleblower, told Times of San Diego that his client
lives on the West Coast.

“The case named three defendants: Oral Roberts, North Greenville University and San Diego Christian,” Guttman said. “This marks the third settlement, and approximately $3 million has been recovered.”

He said the settlement with San Diego Christian was small because it reflects the school’s financial condition and ability to pay.

“The settlement is being paid in installments,” Guttman said.

Neil Sanchez is special agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General’s Southern Regional Office.

“Today’s settlement is a result of the hard work and effort of the Office of Inspector General and the Department of Justice to protect and maintain the integrity of the Federal student aid programs,” Sanchez said. “We will continue to work together to ensure that Federal student aid funds are used as required by law. America’s taxpayers and students deserve nothing less.”

Source: The Time of San Diego, https://timesofsandiego.com/education/2020/10/19/santee-christian-college-to-pay-225000-over-federal-violations-on-recruiting/

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California University To Pay $225,000 For Allegedly Violating Ban On Incentive Compensation

Department of Justice, October 19, 2020

WASHINGTON – San Diego Christian College (SDCC), based in Santee, California, will pay $225,000 to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act for submitting false claims to the U.S. Department of Education in violation of the federal ban on incentive-based compensation, the Justice Department announced today.    

Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA) prohibits any institution of higher education that receives federal student aid from compensating student recruiters with a commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based on the recruiters’ success in securing student enrollment.  The incentive compensation ban protects students against admissions and recruitment practices that serve the financial interests of the recruiter rather than the educational needs of the student.

“Higher education enrollment decisions should put students first,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Offering recruiters financial incentives to enroll students undermines students’ ability to make educational decisions in their own best interests.”

“Colleges should be places for students to learn and grow, not places to be taken advantage of by recruiters watching out for the own financial interests,” said U.S. Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr. for the District of South Carolina.  “This office will continue its efforts to protect students against illegal recruiting practices.”

“Today’s settlement is a result of the hard work and effort of the Office of Inspector General and the Department of Justice to protect and maintain the integrity of the Federal student aid programs,” said Neil Sanchez, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General’s Southern Regional Office.  “We will continue to work together to ensure that Federal student aid funds are used as required by law. America’s taxpayers and students deserve nothing less.”

The settlement, which was based on SDCC’s ability to pay, resolves allegations that between 2014 and 2016, SDCC hired Joined, Inc., a California-based student recruiting company, to recruit students to SDCC.  The United States contended that SDCC compensated Joined with a share of the tuition that SDCC received from the enrollment of recruited students, in violation of the prohibition on incentive compensation. 

The allegations resolved by the settlement were brought in a lawsuit filed under the qui tam, or whistleblowerprovisions of the False Claims Act by Maurice Shoe, the co-owner of Joined.  The Act permits private parties to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to receive a share of any recovery.  As part of today’s resolution, the whistleblower will receive $33,750.

This matter was investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina and the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch.  Investigative assistance was provided by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Education.

The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.  The case is captioned United States ex rel. Shoe v. San Diego Christian College, No. 6:16-cv-01570 (D.S.C.).

Source: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/california-university-pay-225000-allegedly-violating-ban-incentive-compensation

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Virtual Attorney Seminar: False Claims Act: Offense and Defense

Description

Each year private citizen suits under the False Claims Act have returned billions of dollars to Federal and State treasuries. These suits leverage the government’s compliance enforcement resources and provide bounties to those individuals or entities – known as relators – who initiate them.

Who has standing to bring these suits? How are they investigated and put together? What are the pleading requirements and what role does the government play in overseeing this litigation. These issues along with relevant ethical concerns will be discussed from both the Relator and the Defendant perspective.

It is a program of particular interest to plaintiff counsel’s seeking to explore new litigation opportunities, and defense counsel, in-house and insurance counsel who work with clients who do direct or indirect business with the government and are subject to liability under the False Claims Act. It is a program of particular interest to those in the healthcare, education, and defense arenas or for those involved with any client operating in whole or in part with government monies.

The False Claims Act, involving cases filed under seal on behalf of the government, presents unique challenges under the ethical rules. The program will explore these challenges with an eye toward the applicable ethical rules and considerations.

Presenter:

Reuben Guttman, Rguttmn@gbblegal.com, is a founding member of Guttman, Buschner & Brooks PLLC (GBB). His practice involves complex litigation and class actions.

The International Business Times called Mr. Guttman “one of the world’s most prominent whistleblower attorneys,” and he has been recognized as a Washingtonian Top Lawyer by Washingtonian Magazine. His has been counsel in cases brought under the Federal False Claims Act that have returned more than $5.5 million to the government. A February 19, 2015 profile of Mr Guttman by the Boston Globe’s STAT NEWS referred to him as the “Lawyer Pharma Loves to Hate.” Citing a $98 million recovery from Community Health Systems, Inc., Law 360 named Mr. Guttman a “Health Care MVP” and profiled him in a December 1, 2014 article.

In addition to his work on behalf of workers and whistleblowers, Mr. Guttman is the author and/or editor of numerous articles, book chapters, and technical publications. He has appeared on ABC Nightly News, CNN, BBC World News, and has been quoted by major news sources including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. His cases have been discussed in several books.

He has been a Senior Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the Emory University School of Law Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution and has been a Team Leader for Emory Law School’s Kessler-Eidson Trial Techniques Program. He is currently the Senior Advisor to the Emory Law Corporate Governance and Accountability Review (ECGAR). He is a National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) faculty member and co-author, with J.C. Lore of Rutgers Law School, of Pretrial Advocacy, to be published by NITA in 2021.

As part of a U.S. State Department program in conjunction with the Emory law Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution, he has been one of five visiting professors at Universidad Panamericana in Mexico City, training Mexican Judges and practitioners on oral advocacy and trial practice. He has been a guest lecturer at a number of universities including John Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, Peking University in Beijing and Renmin University in Beijing. In 2006, the Dutch Embassy in China invited him to share his perspectives with experts in China about changes to the nation’s labor laws. He also traveled to China and trained Shanghai fraud prosecutors on investigations.
Mr. Guttman earned his law degree at Emory University School of Law, (1985), and his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Rochester, (1981), and he is a founder of the website www.whisleblowerlaws.com.

To learn more, CLE information or to register visit: https://www.celesq.com/programs/view/false-claims-act-offense-and-defense

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