In a Qui tam lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania charging Merck & Company, Inc. with defrauding the United States government, two former employees of the company claim that the company shrouded evidence that disputes the effectiveness of the MMR II vaccine. The former employees claim that the vaccine has become less effective in preventing measles, mumps, and rubella in children, and that Merck has not notified the federal government about the new statistics. By continuing to sell the vaccine without revising the product endorsements, the employees claim that Merck has defrauded the government under the federal False Claims Act (FCA).
The former employees of the company estimate that over the past ten years, the government has spent millions of dollars on the vaccine under false claims about its effectiveness. They claim that Merck was fully aware of the decreasing effectiveness of the vaccine, but chose not to inform government officials or adjust its product endorsements. Merck has denied the claims alleged in the Qui tam lawsuit, and state that they believe the MMRII vaccine is still safe and effective in preventing measles, mumps, and rubella in children. After a two year investigation, the Department of Justice recently announced that it would not participate in the lawsuit.
Whistleblowers Encouraged by Incentives to Bring Qui Tam Lawsuits against Fraudulent Corporations
In a Qui Tam lawsuit, a whistleblower brings suit against a company that he reasonably believes defrauded the government. These lawsuits must be filed under strict provisions that seal the information while the government investigates. If the Department of Justice decides to participate in the lawsuit, the whistleblower becomes eligible to receive a percentage of all money recovered by the government and damages awarded as a result of the lawsuit.
Historically, whistleblowers have received between 16% and 30% of all money recovered and awarded in successful Qui Tam lawsuits. In a 2009 lawsuit, a single individual brought suit against a major drug company and was awarded $51.5 million in the billion dollar settlement. In the case against Merck, the plaintiffs are asking for the highest award allowed under the False Claims Act, and three times the amount of any damages awarded to the government. Without the support of the U.S. Department of Justice, it will be difficult for the plaintiffs to stand up against the pharmaceutical firm, which seriously threatens any chance of a monetary settlement.
Qui Tam Lawsuits Require the Representation of an Experienced, Knowledgeable Whistleblower Attorney
In all Qui Tam lawsuits, successful outcomes depend on adherence to procedural stipulations and careful preparation. Without the support of the Department of Justice, you will have a difficult time standing up to a large corporation equipped with teams of lawyers and monetary funds set aside for their defense. Seeking the assistance of a qualified Qui Tam law firm is imperative. At Sidney L. Gold & Associates, our Qui Tam attorneys possess the skill and knowledge you need on your side for a successful settlement and to ensure that you are protected from retaliation under the False Claims Act.
When you decide to report illegal, dishonest, or immoral actions of a company, you are taking a risk that many people are not willing to assume. Retaliation from company executives, supervisors, coworkers, and even associates outside of the company is a huge concern for whistleblowers. Fortunately there are federal and state laws to protect you. For example, whistleblower protection laws protect plaintiffs in security suits by allowing them to file suit anonymously through their attorney. In New Jersey, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) makes it illegal to retaliate against you for any of the following actions:
- Actual or threatened disclosure of any activity that you believe is in violation of the law, a corporate policy, or that endangers public safety or that of the environment.
- Providing information or testifying about activity that violate laws, company policy, or that threaten public safety or the environment.
- Refusal to partake or contribute to any activity believed to be in violation of the law, company policy, or that endangers public safety or the environment.
The majority of individuals who are considering “blowing the whistle” on dishonest, illegal, and immoral actions of a corporation hesitate for many reasons, but putting a stop to these types of fraudulent activities puts demands on corporations to adhere to ethical operations. Federal and state laws exist to protect you from termination, suspension, demotion, and harassment. Employees who are subjected to retaliation have the right to sue for job recovery, back pay, and damages.
Philadelphia Qui Tam Attorneys at Sidney L. Gold & Associates Work to Protect the Rights of Whistleblowers While Seeking Justice
If you have witnessed corporate activity that you believe is illegal or immoral, the Philadelphia Qui Tam attorneys at Sidney L. Gold & Associates will help you navigate the often complex process of “blowing the whistle” and seeking justice. Call us today to confidentially discuss your concerns. We will evaluate the details and advise you on how best to handle the situation. If you decide to bring a Qui Tam lawsuit against your employer, our knowledgeable and experienced whistleblower attorneys will properly file suit and ensure that you are protected from any form of retaliation by employers while you put a stop to their fraudulent actions. We provide skilled representation during all court proceedings, work to gather evidence to support your case, and help prepare you to testify, if necessary. The employment law firm of Sidney L. Gold & Associates understands the expectations of the Justice Department and will work diligently to have your concerns heard and acknowledged, increasing the likelihood for a successful outcome and favorable settlement. Call our Philadelphia office today at 215-569-3870 or contact us online.