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The power of the whistleblower is one of the few concessions still held among the working folk in our increasingly corporate society. This, after all, is the decade that started off with Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court’s surprising campaign finance decision allowing corporations and private citizens to give unlimited amounts to support or oppose candidates. A sense of apathy, and worse, helplessness has settled among the American workforce, but it is important to remember that the power of the whistleblower is alive and well.
A whistleblower is someone who tells the public or someone in authority, essentially blowing the whistle, about the illegal or dishonest actions of a person or people within a corporation. Whistleblowers are protected under the False Claims Act (FCA), passed in 1863, which provides protection from wrongful dismissal of employment and awards them a percentage (usually 15 to 30 percent) of recovery or damages achieved in a legal suit.
It only takes a glance at history to understand that unchecked, unchallenged power breads corruption. This is why, in our economy, laws are in place to prohibit the creation of monopolies. Competition is supposed to create an arena where competitors help keep each other honest. But as corporations grow, merge, and competitors go from many to few; whistle blowers are increasingly needed to help keep both private business and public services honest.
Whistleblowing is an invaluable right of the people, and has enabled common citizens to put a halt to the wrongful practices of mega-corporations. Practices that have compromised the rights, interests and often times health of countless citizens.
Baron and Budd attorney Kevin N Colquitt, who now works on whistleblower cases, started out as a whistleblower himself. As a previous sales representative for Guidant, now a part of Abbott Laboratories, Colquitt was witness to the questionable marketing of biliary Stents for unauthorized use. While attending law school, Colquitt became educated on the False Claims Act and realized that he had a case against Guidant. He filed the suit in 2006, and Baron and Budd attorneys along with the AARP and Stein Mitchell and Muse now represent the case.
The suit alleges that defendant stent makers, including Guidant, Cordis, Johnson and Johnson and Boston Scientific, violated federal laws by making false claims to the Food and Drug Administration to market biliary stents and then promoted the stents exclusively off-label as vascular stents without FDA approval. As a result, patients have needlessly suffered injuries including aneurysms, air embolisms, strokes, internal bleeding, arterial dissections and even death. All while the accused companies made profit from the use of the medical devices.
The power of the whistleblower allows for citizens at any level to stop corporations from profiting off of corrupt practices and harming the masses. The American public should not be afraid to stand up to corporations that employ abusive or misleading practices for profit’s sake. Apathy is, simply, not an option, and its important to remember that a single individual can fight back against high powered corporation, no matter how rich and powerful it may seem.
If you have witnessed unfair or dishonest practices within your company, learn more about your rights here.