Via America’s Lawyer: Pfizer leads the charge as major businesses lobby against updates to the False Claims Act, which would help whistleblowers expose corporate fraud. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             The false claims act was passed more than 150 years ago to prevent corporations from ripping off the government and tax payers and big business is now flooding DC with corporate money to weaken this law. Farron Cousins from trial lawyer magazine joins me to tell us what’s happening. No surprises here either. Every time we do one of these ugly stories about Pfizer they’re always at the edge of ugly. Here, this is a company, Pfizer, they were hit, they were hit for $2.3 billion for fraud just recently. Okay. And now, and, and, and, and the government collects $67 billion a year from all of these corporate fraudsters stealing from tax payers. But now the big effort is to end that, right.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. You actually had Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of all people has introduced legislation that would strengthened the false claims act because over the years court decisions have basically defanged that entire act. And I’ll get to that in a minute. But Chuck Grassley says, listen, I understand fraud against the government’s a bad thing. I’ve got this bill bipartisan effort Democrats signed on as well to say, we’re gonna strengthen the protections. We’re gonna make it even harder for employees to retaliate, or employers to retaliate against employees. You know, we’re gonna strengthen those protections for the workers and we’re gonna make sure the government doesn’t get scammed. Because what happened was you have court rulings all the way to the Supreme Court that say, listen, you can’t, you cannot pop these corporations for false claims if you are still paying them for their contracts.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. The, the argument is called materiality and it’s a, it’s a ridiculous argument. It’s, it, this, we talk all the time about how dangerous it is. We pay attention to who wins in legislature, who wins for the president. But these courts, they change laws that are good for, they’re good laws. They’re solid laws. And these cats come in and say, oh no, you know, most of these federal judge appointments like it or not come from corporate America. They, they’re silk stocking lawyers that work for defense firms. Nothing changes about the way they view the world. They think that the consumers are riffraff and that corporations are always right. In this situation they took the fangs out of this law, right?

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. Because they said, listen, fraud is exposed but then the government makes any more payments on that contract as, as they’re legally obligated to do.

Mike Papantonio:             Sure.

Farron Cousins:                  Then of course you can’t say that they defrauded you because you’re still using their services. And in most instances, when you’re talking about for instance, a defense contractor, you can’t just immediately sever that contract. You do still need their services or else you’re going with out vital potentially, you know, life altering services in many of these instances. And the judges saw that loophole.

Mike Papantonio:             As an opportunity.

Farron Cousins:                  Yep. And they used it and, and took all of the teeth out of this.

Mike Papantonio:             See, we wanna think you got a federal judge up in a black robe. He doesn’t have, he’s just down the middle.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Nothing is further from the truth. I think of, I think the last three administrations there were more corporate, you know, corporate types appointed to the federal judiciary than anytime in American history. And we want to think, oh, well, when they put on the black robe are gonna really care about consumers that they’ve spent their entire career trampling on as corporate lawyers. And this is a great example. And, and, and unfortunately there’s gonna have to be a regroup on this because you know what, you have corporations that were involved in Afghanistan that stole more money, it was blinding, blinding, the amount of money that they stole. And these judges are giving them a free pass because they said, well, you know, if they stole, you shouldn’t have made another payment. Really? A bureaucracy is gonna adjust to that, that quickly.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.