When people think of the False Claims Act, they usually think of substandard services: for instance, a contractor bills the government for work that was never completed, or a doctor bills Medicare or Medicaid for unnecessary medical services. But the False Claims Act can also apply when the government pays for defective or substandard products.
In fact, the False Claims Act was originally enacted during the Civil War because contractors regularly sold defective supplies to the military. Potential whistleblowers should be on the lookout for defective products in government contracts which could render the seller liable under the False Claims Act.
Defective product cases can arise in many contexts. For instance, in 2018, two companies agreed to pay $66 million to resolve allegations that they defrauded the government into paying for faulty body armor. The federal government alleged that these companies knowingly put the lives of police officers across our nation in danger.
A Closer Look
Another case involves U.S. military personnel. For more than 10 years, allegedly defective earplugs manufactured by 3M Company were issued to members of the military. The government didn’t know the earplugs tended to loosen, failing to protect the hearing of the men and women who bravely defend our nation.
According to news reports, the 3M subsidiary that manufactured the earplugs was aware of the defects as early as 2000. This company hid their findings and issued their earplugs to military personnel from 2003 through 2015.
According to the government, these corporations put profit over patriotism, putting thousands of our service members at risk of hearing loss. Luckily, a whistleblower noticed the defects and filed a lawsuit under the False Claims Act. 3M Company agreed to pay $9.1 million to resolve the lawsuit, and the whistleblower was awarded $1.9 million.
The men and women in our military protect our freedom. It took a brave whistleblower to protect them and become a hero to our heroes. And just like this whistleblower, people who come forward and tell the government about fraud often are rewarded for their courage.
With limited resources at their disposal, federal and state governments need whistleblowers to help identify defective product fraud. Concerned individuals who work in the industries who have knowledge of their employer engaging in fraud can report suspected illegal activity.
If the federal government successfully prosecutes the allegations you bring to light, you may be entitled to a monetary reward. Furthermore, whistleblowers who bring attention to companies that defraud the government and its citizens are offered employment protections under the law.
You Are Protected
The Federal False Claims Act (FCA) protects whistleblowers from retaliation from their employers. This means the whistleblower cannot be fired, demoted or denied regular benefits in response or retaliation to reporting fraud. Whistleblowers should contact an attorney to ensure protection in these cases. When the Department of Justice finds evidence of fraud and pursues the case, the whistleblower typically receives a share of the settlement.
Contact Baron & Budd
With over 30 years of experience in Qui Tam cases, the attorneys on Baron & Budd’s whistleblower representation team have represented some 70 clients in government fraud cases returning over $5.4 billion to federal and state agencies, with whistleblower recovery shares as high as 49%. They are ready to help if you feel you have the evidence needed in order to pursue a whistleblower lawsuit. Get started by calling (866) 401-5971 or contact us online. Please understand that contacting us does not mean that you have established an attorney-client relationship with Baron & Budd, P.C.
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