Whistleblower Complaint: Florida And Textbook Company Locked In Dispute
According to a report from Wink News, the State of Florida is locked in a legal dispute with a major textbook company. Based in large part on a complaint raised by a whistleblower, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is actively investigating allegations that Savvas Learning Company, LLC—a textbook company with a main headquarters in New Jersey—improperly priced textbooks. Here, our Florida False Claims Act attorney provides a more detailed explanation of the dispute.
The Allegations: Selective Pricing of Textbooks in Florida
Savvas Learning Company, LLC is one of the country’s major textbook companies. It offers a wide range of school-based educational instruction materials. Last month, Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a subpoena related to a price-fixing case involving the textbook business. A whistleblower filed a complaint against Savvas Learning Company, LLC alleging that the company improperly charged different rates for the same products and services to different counties in Florida—conduct that could potentially constitute a violation of state law.
The investigation from the Florida Attorney General was spurred by the whistleblower’s complaint. The whistleblower contends that the textbook manufacturer had a complex pricing system to offer lower-cost books and materials to certain jurisdictions in order to solicit more business. However, Florida has a state law in place that requires all private textbook manufacturers to charge all Florida counties the lowest rate for products that they charge to any other public jurisdiction in the country. In this case, there are allegations that larger counties received lower pricing than smaller counties.
A Potential Violation of the Florida False Claims Act
The whistleblower complaint alleges a violation of the Florida False Claims Act. The Office of the Attorney General for the state is now actively investigating the conduct of the Savvas Learning Company, LLC to determine whether or not there has been any wrongdoing under Florida’s False Claims Act. Similar to its federal counterpart, the Florida False Claims Act allows private parties to step into the role of the government and to file a lawsuit directly against an alleged offender.
Notably, a Florida False Claims Act lawsuit is referred to as a qui tam claim. When a whistleblower successfully brings a qui tam lawsuit under the Florida False Claims Act, he or she is entitled to receive a share of the government’s recovery. In this case, the nearly three dozen counties that alleged that they were overcharged with the New Jersey based textbook company are seeking refunds or credits to make up for the difference in the costs that they were charged compared to other counties in Florida.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Florida False Claims Act Lawyer
At Guttman, Freidin & Celler, our Florida whistleblower lawyers have the professional expertise that you can count on. If you have any questions about making protected disclosures under the Florida False Claim Act, we are here to help. Give us a phone call now or connect with us online to schedule your free, strictly private case evaluation. Our firm represents whistleblowers throughout Florida.