State General Ashley Moody secured millions of dollars for Florida stemming from a whistleblower investigation that revealed a private company pocketed state fees to boost corporate profits.
Moody announced that LexisNexis Coplogic Solutions Inc. will pay almost $10 million to resolve allegations that the company engaged in a systematic pattern of underreporting the number of motor vehicle crash reports it sold through a contract with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). This, in turn, resulted in the company underpaying FLHSMV the total amount owed in statutorily-required fees to be collected for each report sold. Through its contract with FLHSMV, LexisNexis made motor vehicle crash reports available to the public for a small fee. The law requires that a portion of the fee, $10 per report, be remitted to FLHSMV. The agency terminated the contract last year, following a whistleblower’s disclosure.
“The state of Florida trusted this private company to help Floridians access crash reports to assist them with insurance claims and other important matters that can arise following an automobile accident. But instead of passing the agency fee along to the FLHSMV, millions of dollars were pocketed as corporate profits. My office will continue to hold responsible companies that seek to abuse the public’s trust in order to bolster their profits,” Moody said.
“We are thankful for Attorney General Ashley Moody’s efforts to hold LexisNexis accountable for their scheme to defraud the state of Florida. As soon as we became aware of this fraud, we immediately began an internal review and started assisting the Office of the Attorney General in their investigation. Prior to these revelations, the department had initiated the process to end our contract with LexisNexis and ultimately did so in June of 2019,” said FLHSMV Executive Director Terry Rhodes.
The investigation began after a whistleblower came forward under the Florida False Claims Act to assert that LexisNexis, as a state vendor, did not follow its contractual and statutory obligation to collect the agency fee every time it sold a Florida crash report but instead improperly kept fees as profits on repeat sales. In an internal PowerPoint presentation, LexisNexis bragged that when it collected an agency fee from customers for repeat sales and did not forward the agency fee to the state, “it is 100 percent profit to us.”
After the whistleblower action was filed, the office promptly intervened in the lawsuit. Florida is the only state that intervened against LexisNexis Coplogic Solutions. A similar lawsuit under the FCA laws of other states resulted in a July 2019 settlement between LexisNexis and the states of Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Tennessee, as well as the city of Baltimore, for a total of $5.8 million.
Florida’s $9.88 million recovery includes $4.125 million in reimbursement for underpayments to the FLHSMV along with a share for the whistleblower as permitted by law. Specifically, the Florida FCA allows private persons who file successful civil actions on behalf of the state to share in any recovery.
LexisNexis Risk Solutions responded as follows:
We are pleased to have reached a settlement with the State of Florida over the resale of automobile accident reports. We had a disagreement over the meaning of contract language regarding when certain payments were due to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles after crash reports were purchased and then resold. Although we disagreed with the interpretation of contract language by the state, ultimately, we decided that rather than litigate, we would settle our disagreement in a way that benefited our law enforcement partners. We want to emphasize that this was not a case about fraud, and the settlement agreement includes no admission of wrongdoing or liability on the part of LexisNexis Coplogic Solutions or any other LexisNexis entity.
LexisNexis Coplogic Solutions provides services to law enforcement agencies that free them to focus on public safety issues, such as crime prevention and community relations. Our services help agencies decrease automobile accident report request processing times, improve internal processes and provide greater efficiency to citizens who need the reports to support their insurance claims.