The National Whistleblower Center (NWC) filed several amici curiae (friend of the court) briefs this year to support whistleblowers and advocate for their protection. In particular, NWC briefs have addressed compelling legal issues including preventing attempts to weaken the False Claims Act (FCA) before the United States Supreme Court, and supporting whistleblower rights for veterans before the Federal Circuit Court.
The NWC wrote amici briefs in two major False Claims Act cases in 2016: Universal Health Services v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar, and State Farm Fire and Casualty Company v. U.S. ex rel. Rigsby. In Escobar, amici asserted that the FCA holds contractors liable not only when they defraud the government and taxpayers by violating express terms of their contract, but also when they violate implied certifications as well. In Rigsby, amici argued that the FCA’s seal provision was designed for the exclusive benefit of the Government, and mandatory dismissal for seal violations would undermine the FCA and hurt taxpayers—the intended beneficiaries of the False Claims Act.
The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Rigsby on November 1, 2016 and will soon issue a decision. In Escobar, whistleblowers took home a major win when the United States Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the “implied certification theory” of liability under the False Claims Act (FCA). The False Claims Act (FCA) is America’s most important—and successful—anti-fraud law; it’s “the government’s most effective civil tool in protecting vital government programs from fraud schemes, wherever they occur.” Maintaining a strong, powerful FCA is in the taxpayers’ best interest—since 2009, the United States taxpayers have recovered over $29.5 billion from fraudsters under the FCA.
Most recently, the National Whistleblower Center filed an amicus curiae brief in a case before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Parkinson v. Department of Justice in support of John C. Parkinson, a former FBI special agent and Iraq war veteran. Along with FBI whistleblowers Fred Whitehurst, Jane Turner, Mike German and Robert Kobus, the NWC advocated that Mr. Parkinson retains his whistleblower rights –even as a veteran, and any contrary holding would deprive all veterans of important substantive rights under the law. The Federal Circuit has yet to issue an opinion in this case.
These cases share an essential thread: the courageous actions of whistleblowers set on doing the right thing. In Escobar, this meant uncovering Medicare fraud, including treatment performed by unlicensed doctors; in Rigsby, it meant unearthing State Farm’s $758,000 scam for defrauding the Government following Hurricane Katrina; and in Parkinson, it was blowing the whistle on his FBI colleagues’ alleged sexual misconduct in 2008.
The National Whistleblower Center has an almost 30-year history of protecting the right of individuals to report wrongdoing without fear of retaliation. Please support the NWC so it can continue to expand and defend whistleblower laws. Consider a donation to the NWC this #GivingTuesday. #BecauseOfWhistleblowers.