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New Whistleblower Lawsuit Restrictions

“Blowing the whistle” on a former healthcare employer can lead to lottery like payouts. Recent whistleblowers are earning millions of dollars for their fraud reporting. Here are some highlights:

1. Pfizer whistleblower earns $51.5 million reward – with Pfizer having to pay $2.3 billion in penalties.
2. $2 million awarded to two New Yorkers for speaking out against their former nursing home employer – $24 million was paid back to the state.
3. A registered nurse received $4.9 million for her help in a Medicare fraud case that netted the U.S. Government $24 million.

However a recent Supreme Court ruling could change the nature of whistleblower lawsuits and the big individual payouts. The court has placed limits on existing whistleblower lawsuits claiming that local governments have misused federal money. The court voted 7 – 2 to hold that a technical, though important aspect of the federal whistleblower law applies to local governments. There is a section of the law that prohibits whistleblower lawsuits when public disclosure occurs through a court hearing, a news report or congressional/administrative audit. Read full article here.

It makes sense that once allegations are disclosed publicly, lawsuits are harder to file. If that wasn’t the case, people could hear about something on the news and head to the courthouse to file a claim. On the other hand, we need to make sure that people are still willing to file these claims against current or former employers who are guilty of wrongdoing. A previous post discussing two Texas nurses who are on trial for bringing claims against a doctor is a perfect example of what we are doing to NOT encourage people to stand up for what is right.

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