Whistleblower lawsuits are one of the most effective ways to expose illegal and dangerous practices within large corporations oftentimes by current or former employees who courageously step forward to report the wrong through the legal process.
For example, our good friend Mr. Reuben Guttman, Director at Grant and Eisenhofer and one of the foremost whistleblower attorneys in the country, is lead counsel in a stunning whistleblower suit against one of the largest pharmaceutical companies– Wyeth, now owned by Pfizer. In this case, two former hospital sales representatives exposed the drug company’s dangerous practice of illegally promoting a kidney transplant drug (Rapamune) for unapproved uses. Even worse, the drug company is alleged to have targeted African-Americans, even though they are at high risk of complications.
Mr. Guttman’s legal complaint alleges that Wyeth encouraged its sales force to promote the drug Rapamune for heart, liver and pancreas transplants, misrepresent, and withhold clinical information regarding the safety of the drug. As a result of the drug company’s wrongdoing, patients were put at risk of serious physical and financial harm including life threatening side effects caused or exacerbated by the drug including anemia, liver failure, inhibited wound healing, blood clots, death and more.
Perhaps the most shocking allegation is that the drug company targeted African American patients for unapproved use of this drug, focusing on two hospitals with predominantly black patient populations–New York’s SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Philadelphia’s Einstein Medical Center. Some hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic raised concerns that patients given the drug were experiencing very serious side effects and yet the drug company was doing nothing to intervene.
Important information to consider if you are deciding to become a whistleblower:
In many whistleblower cases, courageous employees who step forward to “blow the whistle” are often eligible to receive a portion (usually about 15 to 25 percent) of any recovered damages. Some successful plaintiffs have recovered millions of dollars in whistleblower cases.
One important factor to consider is that the information that you “blow the whistle on” must not already be public information. The Public Disclosure Bar, found in 31 U.S.C. §3730(e)(4) states that a court shall not have jurisdiction based upon public disclosures of allegations or transactions in “a criminal, civil, or administrative hearing, in a congressional, administrative, or Government Accounting Office report, hearing, audit, or investigation, or from the news media, unless the action is brought by the Attorney General or the person bringing the action is an original source of information.”
This bar eliminates actions when the whistleblower (also known as a “relator”) has an action based upon specific types of information unless they can prove that he or she is the original source of the information.
Consequently, as a whistleblower, it is important to be the first source of information of the fraud because generally that is only the person who is entitled to a financial award.
For more information on becoming a whistleblower, contact the Oinonen Law Group at 404-654-0288.