WASHINGTON — Today, the nationally recognized law firm of Baron & Budd announced the State of California has decided to intervene in a whistleblower lawsuit filed against eye glass lens manufacturer, Essilor Laboratories of America, for violations of the California Insurance Frauds Protection Act, alleging the company provided kickbacks and other incentives to eye care providers (ECPs) in exchange for pushing its expensive lens products on consumers.
Ricardo Lara, California Insurance Commissioner, has decided to intervene and will be coordinating prosecution the case in a public/private partnership along with Baron & Budd and other private firms working on the case. This case will be prosecuted in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Francisco.
The original lawsuit filed against Essilor alleges that the company “carried out its scheme by knowingly providing its ECP customers with a shopping list of bribes.” According to the suit, Essilor executed this scheme nationwide, including in the state of California, where it targeted and defrauded eyecare insurance companies and their insureds. By bribing ECPs to prescribe more expensive lenses, lens coatings, and to use Essilor lab services, Essilor drove up the cost of benefits paid for by California eyecare insurers and their insureds.
The California Insurance Frauds Protection Act (“IFPA”) was implemented to combat abusive practices aimed at defrauding private insurers and their insureds. Similar to the federal False Claims Act, California’s IFPA allows private citizens to file a lawsuit against those who commit insurance fraud and share in a portion of the recovery.
“Fraudulent schemes like those perpetuated by Essilor account for billions of dollars annually in added healthcare costs across the country,” said Baron & Budd shareholder Scott Simmer. “In this case, eye care providers were given kickbacks and rewards to prescribe Essilor products over other cheaper alternatives. This is an explicit violation of the California IFPA and Essilor needs to be held accountable.”
With more than 30 years of experience in Qui Tam cases, the attorneys on Baron & Budd’s whistleblower representation team have represented some numerous clients in government fraud cases returning over $5.4 billion to federal and state agencies, with whistleblower recovery shares as high as 49%.
About Baron & Budd, P.C.
Baron & Budd, P.C. is among the largest and most accomplished plaintiffs’ law firms in the country. With more than 40 years of experience, Baron & Budd has the expertise and resources to handle complex litigation throughout the United States. As a law firm that takes pride in remaining at the forefront of litigation, Baron & Budd has spearheaded many significant cases for hundreds of entities and thousands of individuals. Since the firm was founded in 1977, Baron & Budd has achieved substantial national acclaim for its work on cutting-edge litigation, trying hundreds of cases to verdict and settling tens of thousands of cases in areas of litigation as diverse and significant as dangerous and highly addictive pharmaceuticals, defective medical devices, asbestos and mesothelioma, California wildfires and environmental contamination, fraudulent banking practices, e-cigarettes, motor vehicles, federal and state whistleblower cases, and other consumer fraud issues.