Bert Louthian, a Columbia attorney who focuses on False Claims Act cases, today repeated his support for a federal whistleblower protection law that was approved by a key Senate committee last week.
“The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act is a necessary and appropriate piece of legislation that will close many loopholes and extend the original law’s protection to such federal workers as airport baggage screeners and research scientists,” said Louthian of the Louthian Law Firm, P.A., a South Carolina law firm that represents clients in qui tam claims as well as a wide variety of personal injury actions.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously approved the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act on October 19, indicating it has bipartisan support, according to the Washington Post.
The bill was approved by the Senate and House of Representatives last year before a last-minute anonymous hold derailed it. The legislation was reintroduced last April.
Louthian said the pending legislation has several provisions that will strengthen the existing Whistleblower Protection Act.
“A key enhancement in the new bill is its provision for access to jury trials in federal district court for whistleblowers to challenge major disciplinary action levied against them by their employers in retaliation for whistle-blowing complaints,” Louthian said.
Whistleblower, or False Claims Act, laws are meant to protect workers who report fraudulent activity pertaining to government funds. They allow individuals to file lawsuits on behalf of government agencies that are being defrauded, which are known as “qui tam claims.” Whistleblowers may collect 15 to 30 percent of any money recovered in a successful lawsuit.
Typical False Claim Act lawsuits pertain to tax fraud, health care fraud (such as false Medicaid or Medicare claims), Social Security fraud or corporate fraud that involves overbilling the government or submitting false information to regulatory agencies, Louthian said.
“Whistleblower lawsuits often deal with government programs guided by complicated rules and regulations,” Louthian said. “This complexity, plus the intimidation factor of taking on an employer who could retaliate, is understandably daunting. That’s why having an experienced False Claims Act attorney and law firm on their side immeasurably strengthens the whistleblower’s hand..
Louthian said his firm provides free, confidential assessments of claims for workers who believe a corporation, individual or health care provider is defrauding the government.
“When a case has merit, the Louthian Law Firm is serious about whistleblower lawsuits and about assisting and protecting those courageous workers who have stepped forward,” he said.