Posted January 14th, 2015.
Estate of Relator David Sherwin and Some 1,000 California Public Agencies Share Award
For more information, contact Jamie Moss, newsPRos, 201-493-1027, Jamie@newspros.com
(January 14, 2015, Los Angeles, CA) – A whistleblower’s estate and more than 1,000 California public agencies will share a $68.5 million settlement in a false claims act case (State of California ex. rel David Sherwin v. Office Depot, Inc.) that was filed in 2009 and recently approved by Judge Kevin C. Brazile of Los Angeles Superior Court. Final settlement papers were filed with the court today.
Former Office Depot Account Manager David Sherwin, who died of cancer this past March, filed the qui tam action under seal on behalf of more than 1,000 California state agencies in 2009. He was represented at the time by Altomease R. Kennedy, now a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Sanford Heisler Kimpel LLP.
Kennedy ultimately assembled a strong California-based legal team, including attorneys Eric R. Havian, Stephen Hasegawa and Ned Arens of Phillips & Cohen LLP, San Francisco, Mark Kleiman of the Law Offices of Mark A. Kleiman, Venice, CA; and Robert J. Nelson and Lexi Hazam of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, San Francisco.
Ms. Kennedy said, “I want to thank this excellent team whose collaboration resulted in this successful resolution. I always found David Sherwin’s assertions compelling, and was confident this matter would ultimately come to a fair and just conclusion, as it now has. His suit called attention to and halted egregious corporate behaviors costing taxpayers millions of dollars. I am sorry David isn’t here to witness this very positive outcome.”
Sherwin’s suit alleged Office Depot violated the California False Claims Act by overcharging public agencies for office and classroom supplies by failing to give the agencies the “best price” as the contract provided. He claimed that the company systematically violated the terms of contracts used by the agencies to purchase pens, ink, furniture and other goods from 2001 to 2011. When the Court unsealed Sherwin’s action in 2012, some of the public entities on whose behalf Sherwin had filed intervened. Those public entities then filed complaints of their own, most of them adopting Sherwin’s original allegations and adding claims for breach of contract and fraud.
Office Depot, Inc., merged with OfficeMax Incorporated last November. The combined revenue of the two office supply giants in 2013 was $17 billion.
About Sanford Heisler Kimpel
Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP is a public interest law firm with offices in New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. The firm has secured over $1 billion for clients and the government in whistleblower matters.
Sanford Heisler Kimpel represents whistleblowers under the False Claims Act who help the government uncover fraud. The firm also represents individuals under rules and regulations governing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Internal Revenue Service.
The firm specializes in employment, Title VII and wage and hour matters; representation of executives and attorneys; qui tam whistleblower cases; consumer fraud; housing discrimination; mass torts; and appellate and complex litigation.