Notable whistleblowers in history
Whistleblower claims (also known as qui tam lawsuits) are brought against companies that have defrauded the state or federal government. Whistleblowers do not have to be personally affected by the fraud. They only have to report the information. Because the government wants to aggressively combat fraud, whistleblowers are eligible for substantial financial rewards for bringing whistleblower claims.
Some of the most famous, notable, and largest whistleblower cases include:
- Lance Armstrong (2013): Floyd Landis filed a qui tam suit against former teammate Lance Armstrong and other members of the United States Postal Service team alleging fraud against the government by using its sponsorship money while also using banned substances in breach of a contract. The lawsuit also claims that using banned substances damaged the U.S. Postal Service’s public image. Landis won the 2006 Tour de France but was stripped of his title after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
- JM Eagle (2013): manufacturer JM Eagle was found liable for defrauding the government after a whistleblower filed a claim
- Eli Lilly (2009): four whistleblowers filed claims against the pharmaceutical company for illegally marketing a drug not approved by the FDA. Eli Lilly was fined $1.415 billion, which included a $515 million criminal fine and an $800 million civil settlement. The four whistleblowers shared a $78.87 million award.
- Northrop Grumman (2009): a whistleblower filed a qui tam claim against the fourth-largest defense contractor in the world over claims the Falls Church, Virginia-based company sold faulty electronic equipment to the government. Northrop Grumman paid $325 million to settle the claim. The whistleblower’s lawyer told The New York Times his client would be awarded $48.8 million for bringing the fraud to the government’s attention.
- Walgreens (2009): whistleblower alleged Walgreens illegally raised the prices for prescriptions paid by Medicaid. The whistleblower, a pharmacist, who filed the lawsuit will receive $5 million as a reward for reporting fraud against the government.
- Amgen (2006): Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, paid $24.9 million to settle allegations under the False Claims Act that it provided kickbacks to long-term care pharmacy providers to incentivize them to use its anemia drug instead of a rival’s. Amgen has faced five whistleblower lawsuits related to the sale and marketing of the anemia drug Aransep. In December 2012, Amgen settled a suit related to Aransep for $762 million.
- Johnson & Johnson (2003): pharmacist blew the whistle on allegedly fraudulent marketing practices by Johnson & Johnson. The lawsuit alleged that the pharmaceutical company promoted a schizophrenia drug for non-FDA approved uses, including anxiety and aggression in dementia patients. The whistleblower will share in a $27.7 million award.
- Ward Diesel Filter Systems (2012): whistleblower filed a claim alleging that the Elmira, New York-based company knowingly overcharged the government under a contract to provide diesel exhaust filtering systems for fire trucks. The whistleblower received $94,200 for reporting this fraud.
- General Electric (1984): whistleblower filed the first qui tam lawsuit in more than 40 years. The lawsuit alleged GE defrauded the Department of Defense by falsely billing for idle time and for jet engine work done for other clients. The case lead to amendments to the False Claims Act, making it easier for whistleblowers to collect damages. The case settled for $3.5 million, which was a record amount at the time.
- United Technologies (1989): whistleblower, the company’s vice president of finance, filed a qui tam claim alleging false billing practices. The firm allegedly offered the whistleblower $1 million in return for his silence. In 1994, United Technologies paid $150 million to the government and the whistleblower was awarded with $22.5 million as part of the settlement.
Contact our team of experienced whistleblower lawyers
If you are aware of a company or individual that is engaging in activity that defrauds the federal or state government, please contact the experienced whistleblower lawyers of The Cochran Firm, D.C. We are dedicated to fighting corruption and fraud on behalf of the taxpaying public. Because strict legal time limits apply to whistleblower claims, we recommend contacting our firm as soon as possible in order to preserve your rights.