Amy Easton, a partner at Phillips & Cohen, is a former federal prosecutor who brings exceptional skills and extensive investigation and litigation experience to her whistleblower cases.
As a Senior Trial Attorney at the US Department of Justice, Ms. Easton investigated and prosecuted many significant healthcare fraud cases, including those based on whistleblower qui tam lawsuits, and cases involving other types of fraud against the government.
Ms. Easton’s most recent success on behalf of a whistleblower client was a lawsuit against UPMC and James Luketich MD that settled for $8.5 million. The government intervened in the case, which alleged that UPMC had violated the False Claims Act by billing federal healthcare programs in violation of federal medical necessity and teaching physician requirements based on Dr. Luketich regularly performing as many as three complex surgical procedures at the same time. The government’s complaint alleged that this practice resulted in extended anesthesia time for patients and potential serious health consequences. As part of the resolution of the case, UPMC and Dr. Luketich also agreed to monitoring of billing practices by an independent auditor.
Ms Easton also helped secure a $50 million settlement that Wheeling Hospital paid to settle allegations that the West Virginia hospital violated the False Claims Act, the Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute by improperly paying millions in excessive compensation to doctors that was above fair market value and based on the volume or value of patient referrals to the hospital. The case is significant for the amount that a single hospital paid to settle allegations that it violated the Stark Law.
In a separate qui tam case brought by Ms. Easton that alleged fraud involving Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief funds, Xavier University of Louisiana paid $12 million to the government to settle its liability. DOJ intervened in the case and has joined Phillips & Cohen to pursue litigation against another defendant, multinational engineering firm AECOM.
For her whistleblower work, Ms. Easton has been recognized by Lawdragon on its “500 Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyers” list and by Washingtonian magazine as one of its “Top Lawyers” in Washington, DC.
While at DOJ, Ms. Easton was a lead prosecutor in many successful whistleblower cases that the government joined, including:
- A qui tam whistleblower lawsuit against more than 500 hospitals in 43 states, making it one of the largest qui tam cases ever. The hospitals paid a total of more than $280 million to settle allegations that they had implanted heart devices known as cardioverter defibrillators too soon after patients’ heart attacks or heart surgery. Medicare regulations require a waiting period to give the heart time to heal.
- One of the largest False Claims Act cases brought against an individual physician, who allegedly subjected patients to unnecessary CT scans and other imaging studies.
- Multiple cases involving violations of the Stark regulations and the Anti-Kickback Act alleging prohibited financial relationships between hospitals and doctors.
- A Medicaid fraud case against a major retail pharmacy chain involving overcharging for prescription drugs.
Ms. Easton also investigated and resolved whistleblower cases involving other types of fraud against the government, such as one alleging fraudulent claims for payment submitted to Amtrak and the US Department of Transportation by a contractor and a separate case against a bank involving alleged fraud in mortgage loans submitted to US Housing and Urban Development.
Lawdragon recognized Ms. Easton’s work on behalf of whistleblowers by including her on its national list of the “500 Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyers” for 2019, 2020, and 2021.
She was awarded the Department of Justice Special Commendation Award in 2015.
Prior to joining the Justice Department, Ms. Easton worked for a Washington, DC, law firm, where she focused on complex commercial litigation. Her responsibilities included leading an investigation of a financial institution tied to the Enron bankruptcy.
She is a frequent speaker at conferences for healthcare and compliance professionals on False Claims Act and qui tam topics.
Ms. Easton earned her law degree from The Ohio State University College of Law. Following graduation, she was a judicial law clerk for US Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. She is admitted to the bar in Washington, DC, and Ohio.
- “SouthEast Eye Center Agrees to Pay $17 million after Whistleblower Files Complaint,” Chattanoogan, May 2, 2023.
- “Telehealth Fraud Not An Easy FCA Target, DOJ Attys Say,” Law360, Feb. 23, 2022.
- “Wheeling Hospital agrees to $50 million settlement with DOJ,” The Intelligencer, Sept. 10, 2020.
- “Wheeling Hospital agrees to $50 million settlement concerning Medicare fraud claims,” WV MetroNews, Sept. 9, 2020.
- “Federal government intervenes in hospital whistleblower suit,” AP News, Dec. 22, 2018.
- “How DOJ got 500-plus hospitals to settle over cardiac implants,” Modern Healthcare, May 28, 2016.
- “Former Federal Prosecutor Amy Easton Joins Phillips & Cohen in Washington,” Corporate Crime Reporter, Feb. 24, 2016.
“Anatomy of an FCA Case”- HCCA Healthcare Enforcement Compliance Conference – Nov. 5, 2023
- “FCA Perspectives: What You Should Know from Relators’ Counsel” — ABA’s Civil False Claims 2022 CLE—Sept. 12, 2022
- “Prosecuting Telehealth Fraud Under the False Claims Act,” Federal Bar Association’s 2022 Qui Tam Conference – Feb. 23, 2022
- ” Developments in Healthcare Fraud” – ABA’s Virtual Civil False Claims Act and Qui Tam Enforcement Institute – December 2020
- “Criminal, Civil and Administrative Enforcement in Kickback Cases” – ABA’s 29th Annual National Institute on Health Care Fraud – May 2019
- “Developments in Healthcare Fraud” – ABA’s 12th National Institute on the Civil False Claims Act and Qui Tam Enforcement – June 2018
- “Introduction to Fraud and Compliance for Industry Groups (Providers [Hospitals and Physicians])” – ABA’s 28th Annual National Institute on Health Care Fraud – May 2018
- Workshop for Qui Tam/Relators and Other Plaintiffs Counsel – ABA’s 28th Annual National Institute on Health Care Fraud – May 2018
- Anatomy of a False Claims Act Case: Investigation, Litigation, Negotiation, Resolution – HCCA’s 22nd Annual Compliance Institute – April 2018
- Whistleblower Case Study – HCCA Board Audit Committee Compliance Conference – February 2018
- Qui Tam Roundtable – 18th Annual Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Compliance Congress – November 2017
- Anatomy of False Claims Act Case – HCCA Healthcare Enforcement Compliance Institute – October 2017
- New Enforcement Priorities: Fraud and Abuse Panel – 2017 Advanced Health Care Law Seminar, State Bar of Georgia Health Law Section – October 2017
- Whistleblowers: Who, What and Why – Florida Hospital Association Annual Corporate Compliance Education Retreat – June 2017
- Hot Topics in Healthcare Fraud – AAPC HealthCon 2017 – May 2017
- Anatomy of a False Claims Act Case: Investigation, Litigation, Negotiation, and Resolution – HCCA Compliance Institute – March 2017
- If You Could See What We Saw: Observations of Former DOJ Health Care Fraud Prosecutors – National Alliance of Medical Auditing Specialists Auditing & Compliance Conference – December 2016
- Fraud and Abuse in Long Term Care (Nursing Homes) – National Institute on Health Care Fraud – May 2016
- Specialty Workshop for Qui Tam/Relators and other Plaintiffs Counsel – National Institute on Health Care Fraud – May 2016
- Value Based Payments and Compliance: Responding to the Government’s Focus on Quality of Care and Medical Necessity – HCCA Compliance Institute – April 2016
- Anatomy of a False Claims Act Case – AAPC Annual Conference – April 2016