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Monthly Roundup - March 2014

Posted  April 3, 2014

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

Here is our look-back at the key whistleblower and fraud developments we have written about over the past month:

Featured Posts and Commentary

As if the NCAA did not have enough to worry about with the class action lawsuit attacking as an illegal price-fixing agreement the NCAA’s age-old ban on player compensation.  Now it has to deal with the NLRB decision that Northwestern University scholarship football players are employees of the school and therefore entitled to unionize.  Taken together, these twin-attacks on the mighty NCAA may completely change the face of big-time college sports….

Last month, Idaho passed the latest of the so-called “Ag-Gag” bills that have been introduced in state legislatures over the past few years.  This law, much like the Ag-Gag laws already passed in Iowa, Utah, Missouri, North Dakota, Montana and Kansas, bans anyone — including journalists, employees, and animal rights activists  —  from photographing or filming anything inside factory farms and slaughterhouses in order to document animal abuse or other violations.  This law is currently under Constitutional challenge….

We have made some progress in how we feel about whistleblowers.  Unfortunately, that old school-yard “nobody likes a snitch” mentality still remains firmly entrenched in our collective psyche, even among the group singularly tasked with serving and protecting us — the NYPD….

It has been the subject of heated debate for years.  The student-athletes in big-time college sports — FBS football and men’s Division I basketball — bring in billions of dollars a year for their universities and the NCAA but are entitled to nothing in return other than a scholarship that most agree does not even cover the full cost of attending school.  Up until now, it has been largely a philosophical discussion among academics and sports enthusiasts wrestling with the notions of amateurism, exploitation and the purity of college sports.  But thanks to a class action lawsuit filed this week, the question has moved out of the theoretical and into the courtroom….

The Center on National Security and PEN American Center hosted a riveting panel at Fordham Law School on the critical role whistleblowers play in keeping America safe and the continued ambivalence so many feel toward them.  The five panelists explored the historical, cultural, legal and political dimensions of whistleblowing, along with recent controversies surrounding Edward Snowden and other national security whistleblowers….

Wildlife crime is big business – and it’s getting bigger.  It is the fourth largest transnational crime in the world, after narcotics, counterfeiting, and human trafficking.  And it is worth at least $17 billion a year.  The World Wildlife Fund recently said that in 50 years of conservation work, it has never seen wildlife crime on the scale that it exists today….

A Supreme Court decision this week settled a brewing conflict among authorities on who can benefit from the anti-retaliation protections for whistleblowers in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX).  And the outcome is good for whistleblowers.   The Supreme Court ruled that employees of private contractors and subcontractors who provide services to public companies can be protected whistleblowers under SOX….

Questions of the Week

  • Do you think the NCAA should drop its ban on paying college athletes?  Polls still open.
  • Is there any legitimate justification for Idaho’s new Ag-Gag law?  100% of respondents said No.

DOJ Fraud Settlements

The DOJ settled False Claims Act and other fraud allegations with Marubeni Corp., Toyota, Memorial Hospital, Halifax Hospital Medical Center, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Sea Star Line and Horizon Lines, among others, for a combined recovery this month of roughly $1.4B.  Many of these matters were initiated by whistleblowers under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.