Under federal law, persons and companies who defraud the government can be held liable in a court of law for their wrongdoing. Not every false claim filed against a governmental entity will subject the filer to liability, however, as there are certain requirements that must be shown before the applicable statute will be enforced.
An important component of the federal law in question concerns the filing of a qui tam action. Under this provision, an individual, private person can file suit against an allegedly fraudulent filer on behalf of the government. If the suit is ultimately successful, it is possible that both the government and the private person may be awarded monetary compensation.
Additionally, there are provisions in place to protect a private person who files a qui tam action on the government’s behalf. Such “whistleblowers” may not be lawfully discharged on account of their actions in filing on behalf of the government to recoup monies lost due to fraudulent claims. Of course, a person with an Atlanta whistleblower protection claim may still be terminated for other, non-discriminatory reasons.
Facts of the Case
The plaintiff in a federal district court case was the former employee of the defendant final care provider. Asserting claims under the False Claims Act codified at 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729–33 et seq, the plaintiff filed a qui tam action against the defendant and its subsidiaries. Originally, the plaintiff’s suit asserted claims on behalf of the United States, but those claims were later dismissed, and only the plaintiff’s individual unlawful retaliation claim remained. In the individual claim, the plaintiff alleged that he was entitled to relief in federal court due to the defendants’ unlawful retaliation against him in violation of the Act, including 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h).
The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), asserting that he had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.
The Court’s Decision
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Macon Division, granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s unlawful retaliation claim against them. The plaintiff argued that, during his employment with the defendant final care provider, he learned that the defendant had admitted multiple patients who were not eligible for the services provided to them and that he had reported several such violations to management, only to have his concerns ignored. He further asserted that the defendants’ reason for his alleged termination (inappropriate transfer of credit to a marketer) was pretextual and that, instead, he was fired due to his status as a whistleblower.
The reviewing court acknowledged the plaintiff’s assertions but, ultimately, found that he had failed to state a claim under the Act. In so holding, the court noted there was a two-year gap between the time of the plaintiff’s whistleblowing activities and his allegedly unlawful retaliatory termination. In the court’s view, these facts could not assert an inference of a causal connection between the protected activity by the plaintiff and the reasons for his termination later on.
Speak to Counsel About an Unlawful Retaliation Case in Atlanta
Attorney John L. Mays handles Atlanta Whistleblower Protection claims, as do other members of the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert. Call us at 404-873-8048 to schedule a consultation with a member of our firm to discuss your situation. Our lines are open 24/7, so you can call anytime. If you prefer, you can use the “contact us” section of this website to reach out to us for help with your case.