Erica Blachman Hitchings became a member of the Whistleblower Law Collaborative LLC after nearly nine years in the U.S. Department of Justice where she successfully investigated, litigated, and settled a wide range of False Claims Act cases.
Ms. Hitchings joined the Department of Justice as a member of the prestigious Attorney General’s Honors Program in 2009, after spending two years clerking for the Honorable Patti B. Saris, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. She first served as a Trial Attorney in the Civil Fraud section in Washington, D.C. and then as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of California. Over the course of her career at DOJ, Erica B Hitchings conducted dozens of health care, procurement, and other fraud investigations that resulted in the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars by the United States.
In the health care fraud arena, for example, Ms. Hitchings investigated and successfully resolved allegations that a nationwide skilled nursing home chain submitted false claims for skilled therapy services; that a large hospital system admitted patients who could have been treated on a less costly, outpatient basis; and that sleep centers used unlicensed technicians to administer overnight tests to unwitting patients. Ms. Hitchings also has significant expertise in the area of Medicare Advantage, Stark Law, the Anti-Kickback statute, and pharmaceutical off-label marketing schemes. More specifically, Erica simultaneously ran two cutting-edge Medicare Advantage fraud investigations while at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, one of which recently resulted in a $90 million recovery and another in which the government has intervened and alleged over a billion in false claims.
Erica has taken False Claims Act cases from start to finish and brings this experience to bear each day—whether analyzing challenging legal issues, counseling a client, or meeting with government counsel.
Ms. Hitchings was a member of a procurement fraud litigation team that recovered over $250 million from numerous technology and consulting companies, including Accenture LLP and EMC Corporation, for allegedly defrauding the government through pricing and kickback schemes.
In addition to her fraud enforcement work, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Erica B. Hitchings coordinated the civil rights enforcement program of her division and defended government agencies in an array of civil litigation, including administrative, constitutional, and environmental matters. She was also a member of the Office’s Diversity Committee.
Ms. Hitchings has been a frequent speaker on topics of health care fraud and False Claims Act developments, and she designed a training curriculum that will boost the affirmative investigation and litigation skills of government attorneys throughout the country.
Erica B. Hitchings was a member of the Dartmouth College women’s soccer team and spent four years prior to law school teaching history, coaching soccer and basketball, and serving as a social justice program coordinator for teens.
Suzanne Durrell has extensive experience handling False Claims Act cases over the past thirty years, first representing the government and then representing whistleblowers. She and Robert M. Thomas, Jr., are the co-founders and managing members of the Whistleblower Law Collaborative LLC. Recognized as “an incomparable team,” Ms. Durrell and Mr. Thomas were named the 2017 Lawyers of the Year by the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund for “an extraordinarily successful year in careers devoted to fighting fraud.”
Suzanne Durrell served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and as Deputy Chief, and then Chief, Civil Division, U. S. Attorney’s Office, Boston, supervising and prosecuting the office’s burgeoning qui tam and False Claims Act cases from 1989 to 2002. Most notably, she was the lead civil attorney on the five qui tam cases and investigation against National Medical Care, Inc./Fresenius that, in 2000, resulted in a then record $486 million health care fraud settlement. She also served as Deputy Associate Attorney General at the U. S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. (1991-1992) and was a national leader in developing strategies and policies for enforcing the False Claims Act. During her tenure with the Department of Justice, she received numerous awards from the Department and other agencies, including the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, the most prestigious recognition bestowed by the Department.
SED MLW WOL 2022
“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.”
Following her distinguished career with the Department of Justice, Suzanne Durrell established Durrell Law Office in 2003 representing whistleblowers and handling False Claims Act litigation in collaboration with Mr. Thomas, then of Thomas & Associates in Boston. Later, they founded the Whistleblower Law Collaborative LLC. She is a frequent speaker at national and regional conferences and has authored articles on the False Claims Act and other whistleblower laws.
Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ms. Durrell served as an Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1984-1989) and was an associate at the law firm of Hill & Barlow in Boston (1978-1984). During this period of her career, she litigated dozens of civil cases and briefed and argued multiple appeals in both state and federal courts. She also was a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics (1984 – 1991).
Suzanne Durrell is a 1978 cum laude graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and a 1975 graduate with honors from Swarthmore College. During law school she was a Notes Editor on the American Criminal Law Review and served on the staff of the Honorable Patrick J. Leahy, United States Senator (D-VT).
Listen to Suzanne describe her life and career for Women’s History Month in March 2021.
Bruce served as a federal prosecutor for over twenty years. During his time at the U.S. Department of Justice, he supervised complex criminal investigations involving public corruption, obstruction of justice, money laundering, bank fraud, and racketeering. Bruce charged, tried and convicted corporate executives, elected officials, bank officers, union officials, attorneys, and law enforcement agents.
Among other commendations Bruce received the Department of Justice Director’s Award for superior service as a prosecutor. He also received the national U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General Award for Excellence on two separate occasions.
Following his distinguished career with the Department of Justice, in 2018, Bruce became a member of the Whistleblower Law Collaborative, LLC in Boston, Massachusetts.
Bruce brings the drive, focus, and tenacity of his time at the U.S. Justice Department to the representation of his whistleblower clients in false claims actions around the country and in official matters pending before the SEC, the CFTC, and the IRS.
Linda Severin has decades of experience in criminal and civil enforcement actions, investigations, and complex litigation. Her background as a federal prosecutor, a white-collar defense attorney, and an in-house litigation attorney at a Fortune 100 corporation enables her to analyze whistleblower fraud matters from multiple perspectives.
Ms. Severin became a member of the Whistleblower Law Collaborative in 2018. Before joining the firm full-time, she had been a solo practitioner working on False Claims Act matters with Bob Thomas and Suzanne Durrell, most notably United States ex rel. Westmoreland v. Amgen, Inc., 707 F. Supp. 2d 123 (D. Mass. 2010), which was part of the global criminal and civil settlement against Amgen.
Linda C. Severin served for eight years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York. As a federal prosecutor, she investigated and tried cases involving fraud, racketeering, drug trafficking, money laundering, and extortion, and she briefed and argued criminal appeals before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Her supervisory positions included Deputy Chief of the Appeals Unit, Deputy Chief and Acting Chief of the Narcotics Unit, and Chief of the New York/New Jersey Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.
From my first meeting with Linda, I knew I had found the best attorney to represent me. Though I was inexperienced with the process, she guided me through with professionalism, integrity and caring. I cannot recommend her strongly enough.
Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ms. Severin was a law clerk to the Honorable John E. Sprizzo, District Judge for the Southern District of New York, and a litigation associate at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle. While at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, she was part of a trial team that successfully represented plaintiffs suing Standard Oil Company and Amoco for damages caused by the grounding of the Amoco Cadiz oil tanker off the coast of France.
After leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Linda Severin moved to Seattle and entered private practice, where her work focused on white-collar criminal defense and internal investigations. She was a partner at Bogle & Gates and later founded the firm of Tallman & Severin LLP with Richard C. Tallman. After Mr. Tallman became a United States Judge for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Linda worked in-house for The Boeing Company and, later, for Garvey Schubert Barer.
Ms. Severin taught trial advocacy as an adjunct instructor at both the University of Washington Law School and New York Law School. In Seattle, she was a member of the Criminal Justice Act panel for the Western District of Washington, representing indigent criminal defendants in federal court. She also was part of a team of pro bono attorneys representing clients who successfully challenged Washington State ballot initiatives seeking to restrict civil rights for LGBTQ persons. Linda C. Severin has been a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs and other legal conferences.
David Lieberman is an experienced litigator of complex fraud claims, with a focus on those involving the False Claims Act.
A former environmental crime prosecutor with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, Mr. Lieberman has represented whistleblowers and governments in major false claims act cases. These include United States ex rel. Hendrix v. J-M Manufacturing Co. filed against the world’s largest municipal water pipe maker. In that case, David Lieberman helped obtain a favorable jury verdict after a multi-week trial.
Previously, Mr. Lieberman served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Bruce M. Selya of the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Before joining Whistleblower Law Collaborative, Mr. Lieberman practiced law at Ropes & Gray and Day & Pitney in Boston.
Earlier, Mr. Lieberman graduated from Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Stone and Kent Scholar and served as Managing Editor of the Columbia Law Review. He is also a graduate of Tufts University. Mr. Lieberman served as a corps member in City Year, the trailblazing public service program that inspired Americorps. In City Year, he worked with underserved students in Boston Public Schools and later helped found City Year, Washington, D.C.
David, an experienced commercial litigator and former Assistant Attorney General, represents whistleblowers prosecuting fraud under the False Claims Act and other qui tam statutes.
In 2015 David Lieberman received the “Up & Coming Excellence in the Law Award” from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Massachusetts Super Lawyers recognized him as a “Rising Star” in 2015-2018 and “Super Lawyer” since 2019.
An active member of the Boston Bar Association, Mr. Lieberman is a BBA Junior Fellow and previously served in the BBA Public Interest Leadership program. He is active as a member of the City Year Seven Generations Board, and a five-time vice-chair of the City Year Legal Breakfast.
David Lieberman serves as an elected member of his Democratic Ward Committee in Somerville and is a contributing writer for the legal podcast Talking Feds.
Bob Thomas has been practicing law since 1986 and for the last nineteen years has been representing whistleblowers with his friend, colleague, and co-founder, Suzanne Durrell. Mr. Thomas and Ms. Durrell have been recognized throughout the country as a formidable team. They combine deep technical expertise in the False Claims Act and other whistleblower laws with sound litigation instincts and the seasoned judgment that comes from a combined seventy years of experience in handling complex legal matters in both the civil and criminal arenas. Bob Thomas and Suzanne Durrell were named the 2017 Lawyers of the Year by the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund for their successful “careers devoted to fighting fraud.”
Robert Thomas served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Maryland from 1989 to 1997, focusing primarily on the prosecution of white-collar fraud matters and environmental crimes. He was awarded the EPA Bronze Medal for his contribution to the prosecution of the criminal Clean Water Act case of U.S. v. Wilson and IGC, 133 F.3d 251 (4th Cir. 1997), a case of national importance with respect to the enforcement of the Clean Water Act in federally-protected wetlands.
“Bob was personally committed to me as the client, and to the case, throughout the eight years of our journey. He was an effective leader – transparent, supportive, optimistic, decisive, and acting with unfailing integrity. We had, and have, the highest level of trust and respect for each other.” – Mike Mullen
Starting in 1997 from the private sector, Bob undertook a unique assignment as part of a team of former federal prosecutors to investigate and eradicate mob corruption in labor unions. He served under the “General Executive Board Attorney” Robert D. Luskin to identify appropriate subjects and to bring internal disciplinary charges and trusteeship actions before an Independent Hearing Officer. This work lasted for a decade, with Bob successfully trying dozens of organized crime cases in labor arbitration proceedings.
Beginning in 2003 and continuing to the present, Bob teamed up with Suzanne Durrell, the former Chief of the Civil Division of the Boston U.S. Attorney’s Office, to represent whistleblowers, believing that their prior prosecutorial experiences as civil and criminal law enforcement attorneys gave them a unique window into how to build successful cases. The last twenty years have borne out this belief, with a long list of successful results for their whistleblower clients.
Mr. Thomas is a 1985 cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School and magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University. Upon graduation from law school, he served as a judicial law clerk for federal District Judge Walter E. Black, Jr., after which he joined the Washington, D.C. law firm of Covington & Burling as an associate. He subsequently joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Maryland in 1989.