Late last month after Lance Armstrong admitted to the public that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, we discussed whether that confession would affect a pending whistle-blower lawsuit against the athlete. The U.S. Justice Department has now decided to join that lawsuit, and more than $90 million may be at stake.
When residents of Wisconsin seek medical advice or care, it is important that they can trust their doctors. Trusting one's physician means believing that he or she will make treatment recommendations based on knowledge and expertise. The news has been filled with stories lately of third-parties--such as pharmaceutical companies--clouding this doctor-patient relationship by offering kickbacks to doctors who help sell their products.
Now that Lance Armstrong has reportedly come clean to the public about using performance-enhancing drugs, there is much speculation about the legal repercussions. Armstrong's confession is in contrast to statements he has made under oath and to lawsuits he's won against those who tried to out him in the past. While it is unclear what may now become of those cases, Armstrong's recent admission may put fire under the U.S. government to join a whistle-blower lawsuit against him.
Under the federal False Claims Act, citizens can blow the whistle on a business or person that is defrauding the government or violating government regulations. Often, employees bring such lawsuits because they have inside knowledge of wrongdoing. As a reward for blowing the whistle, False Claims Act whistle-blowers are entitled to a piece of any resulting financial settlement; this is called a relator's share. However, these lawsuits are very complicated. In a case that just ended, the government has moved to dismiss a case due to a whistle-blower's actions.
Under the qui tam provision of the Federal Civil False Claims Act, citizens can file lawsuits to allege fraud against a business that receives government funding. The person filing the lawsuit is often an employee of the business and is referred to as a whistle-blower. If a citizen's claim is successful, he or she will generally receive a share of the settlement recovered by the government.