Whistle-Blowing: One Woman’s Quest for Justice

We all know the difference between right and wrong, but in corporate America, there are sometimes degrees of how right or how wrong something might be. A Texas woman who didn’t see matters in degrees did something about corporate wrongdoing and her case is now one of the largest whistle-blower lawsuits on record.

The case

According to a recent article in the New York Times, a Texas woman accepted a job with a company called Novation – a health care purchasing company that negotiated multi-million dollar government contracts with health care giants such as Johnson & Johnson and Merck. Drug company bids on these contracts were supposed to be kept secret and Novation would award the contracts to the highest bidder. At least, that was what was supposed to happen.

After only a few weeks on the job, this woman was called into a meeting with Johnson & Johnson where she was asked ‘what it would take’ to get a certain contract. Apparently, this kind of thing happened all the time at Novation and Johnson & Johnson told her so. In disbelief, she went to upper management and relayed what had occurred in the meeting. However, upper management’s response was not what she would have expected.

Instead of siding with her, the company allegedly made her job unbearable until it finally fired her a few months later for ‘failing to follow orders’. Rather than do nothing, she filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against Novation and several of the drug companies that were participating in these ‘deals’. Although the lawsuit was filed in 2003 and kept secret pursuant to the rules of the False Claims Act, a Texas judge recently decided to make the facts known in an attempt to resolve the case one way or another.

The case is currently being investigated by the government and various depositions have already been taken. Not surprisingly, Novation and the drug companies named as defendants in the lawsuit are denying the allegations and portraying the plaintiff as a disgruntled employee who is merely in it for the money – something that she adamantly denies.

How a whistle-blower lawsuit works

Whistle-blower lawsuits, sometimes referred to as Qui-tam lawsuits, are filed under the False Claims Act and allow private citizens to bring lawsuits on behalf of the government against companies that have allegedly engaged in fraudulent activities. The government can decide to join the lawsuit or let the person who filed it see it through. In either situation, the person who filed it may receive up to 25 or 30 percent of whatever is recovered – and when you’re talking about big sums of multi-million dollars, that amount adds up.

How big is ‘big’?

Well, very big. In 2006, Tenet Healthcare paid $900 million to settle a whistle-blower lawsuit that accused the company of over billing the Medicare program. However, that suit was filed in 2003, so anyone who decides to file a whistle-blower lawsuit should have a great deal of patience as these lawsuits could go on for several years. However, it you hire an attorney who understands the process and whose practice focuses in this area of law; that patience can pay off in the end – not only for you, but also for the government and those consumers who may be subject to fraudulent dealings.

If you are aware of fraudulent activities against the government and are considering filing a whistle-blower lawsuit, contact a qualified attorney who can help by clicking here.

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