Two Whistleblower Law Collaborative attorneys took home “Best Lawyers” awards this year. Suzanne Durrell and Erica Blachman Hitchings are both former DOJ attorneys. They now exclusively represent whistleblowers.
Suzanne Durrell was recognized for Best Lawyers 2023 Qui Tam Law. Suzanne has extensive experience handling False Claims Act cases over the past thirty years. She is a co-founder and Managing Member of the firm.
At the Forefront in the Government
Prior to representing whistleblowers, Suzanne served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston. She began as Deputy Chief, and then became Chief, of the Civil Division. Suzanne was instrumental in developing that Office’s now famed False Claims Act practice. Suzanne prosecuted many notable FCA cases in the government, including several qui tam cases against National Medicare Care, Inc. (Fresenius). Under her leadership, the government recorded a then record-breaking $486 million civil and criminal settlement in the Fresenius cases. Suzanne also played a role in shaping policies for False Claims Act enforcement nationwide as Deputy Associate Attorney General in Washington D.C. (1991-1992). During her tenure with the DOJ, she received numerous awards from DOJ and other agencies. Among them was the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, the most prestigious recognition bestowed by the DOJ.
A Tireless Advocate for Her Clients
Suzanne’s career as a whistleblower counsel is also a model of success. She has represented whistleblowers in numerous landmark cases, including: a $762 million recovery against Amgen, an $885 million recovery against Americsource Bergen, a $465 million settlement with Mylan, and many more. Most recently, Suzanne partnered with WLC attorney Linda Severin for a $234 million resolution with Mallinckrodt. Among other honors, Suzanne was the 2017 Taxpayers Against Fraud Whistleblower Lawyer of the Year, with WLC co-founder Bob Thomas.
To say that Suzanne is a leader in the field is an understatement. But Suzanne is driven by more than just results. She loves the False Claims Act. And she values the opportunity to serve her courageous clients.
A former client summed up Suzanne perfectly:
What you’ve accomplished is amazing, but it is who you are—brilliant, tireless, honorable, creative, modest (and so much fun)—that has changed the lives of everyone you’ve worked with or against or represented, including me. Thank you.
Erica Blachman Hitchings
Erica Blachman Hitchings was recognized for Best Lawyers 2023 Employment Law – Individuals. Erica has devoted her entire career to False Claims Act cases, first as a government attorney and now representing whistleblowers.
Shaped by Government Experience
Prior to joining WLC in 2019, Erica spent nine years in the Department of Justice. In 2009, Erica entered the Department through the prestigious Attorney General’s Honors Program. She immediately set to work investigating and litigating FCA cases as a Trial Attorney in the Civil Fraud section. In those first years, Erica was a member of a procurement fraud litigation team that recovered over $250 million from numerous technology and consulting companies for allegedly defrauding the government through pricing and kickback schemes. She earned a Special Commendation for Outstanding Service in the Civil Division for her role in those matters.
After two years in D.C., Erica moved to San Francisco and became an Assistant U.S. Attorney. She continued to work on FCA matters, including a $37 million resolution with Dignity Health for allegedly admitting patients who could have been treated on a less costly, outpatient basis and a whistleblower complaint regarding the submission of false claims for medically unnecessary therapy. Erica also spearheaded two cutting-edge Medicare Advantage fraud investigations. One of these matters led to a $90 million recovery against Sutter Health. The other, against Kaiser Permanente, is in litigation with over a billion dollars in alleged false claims.
Representing Whistleblowers of All Kinds
In 2019, Erica returned to Boston, where (prior to DOJ) she had clerked for the Honorable Patti B. Saris of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Erica joined WLC, applying her government experience to her representation of whistleblowers in a wide range of matters. In her first WLC matter, Erica represented a whistleblower who alleged that a fuel company was overcharging cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The scheme also undermined state and local governments’ efforts to reduce harmful emissions. That matter resolved quickly, netting $850,000 for the Commonwealth. In addition, the settlement limited the defendant’s ability to contract with the Commonwealth in the future. Erica was also one of the WLC attorneys handling the recent $10 million settlement with BioReference Health. Like many of WLC’s matters, each of these cases included allegations of illegal retaliation and other employment claims.
Erica is an active member of the whistleblower attorney community, serving on the President’s Council of Taxpayers Against Fraud (TAF). She is a frequent speaker at conferences and teaches Healthcare Fraud and Abuse at Boston University School of Law.
Best Lawyers is a Peer-Reviewed Award
First published in 1983, recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their process is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.
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