Maine Will Pay $250,000 to Settle CDC Document-Shredding Whistleblower Lawsuit
The State of Maine has agreed to pay $250,000 to two whistleblowers and the Maine Centers for Disease Control, after the plaintiffs filed a qui tam lawsuit alleging that they were wrongfully discriminated against by a CDC director after they refused to participate in document shredding.
The parties reached the settlement agreement on Tuesday, February 17th. The plaintiffs are Sharon Leahy-Lind, once the director of the Division of Local Public Health, and Katie Woodbury, a CDC office manager. The two women will drop their whistleblower lawsuits as part of the settlement, but their boss will admit that they acted responsibly and legally when they refused to take part in the document shredding.
In April 2013, Leahy-Lind filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission alleging that her bosses ordered her to shred public documents involving funding to the Healthy Maine Partnerships program, specifically so that local news outlets could not find them as part of the Freedom of Access Act. In October of that year, Leahy-Lind took another step and filed a whistleblower lawsuit against her boss and the Department of Health and Human Services, because she was retaliated against by her employer for filing the complaint regarding an action that she believed to be illegal.
Woodbury joined the whistleblower lawsuit in September 2014 when she came forward, alleging that the CDC has harassed and discriminated against her when she took a similar stand against the document shredding.
Leahy-Lind will receive $142,500 as part of the settlement, and Woodbury will receive $22,500. The women’s attorneys’ fees will also be paid by the CDC.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help Protect Whistleblowers with the False Claims Act
The False Claims Act, also known as the Whistleblower Act or a qui tam lawsuit, is intended to encourage people to come forward with information and assist the government in stopping the waste of Government funds.
“Qui Tam” are the first words of a Latin clause referring to the plaintiff as “one who sues as much for the state as for himself or herself.”
It is a provision of the Federal Civil False Claims Act that allows a private citizen to file a suit, in the name of the U.S. Government, charging fraud by government contractors and other entities that receive or use government funds. Bolstered by amendments passed by Congress in 1986, the law has armed private citizens who have independent and direct knowledge of fraud, whether financial institution fraud or Medicare fraud, with a weapon to prosecute government contractors and others who are defrauding the Government.
Common whistle blower actions include:
- Medicare fraud,
- defense contractor fraud, and
- other kinds of fraud.
If you are personally aware of a fraud that has been committed by your current or former employer, a competitor or otherwise, contact the Qui Tam attorneys at the Strom Law Firm today for a no cost consultation to discuss the facts of your case and whether filing a whistleblower lawsuit may be appropriate. We understand the complexity of the False Claims Act, and can help you with your case. We offer free, confidential consultations so contact us for help today. 803.252.4800.