Usually, when the federal government refuses to join in your whistleblower suit, you give up. (Unless, of course, you're talking about whistleblower suits against the federal government.)
A pair of local attorneys decided to stick with their so-called "qui tam" (legalese for "whistleblower") suit, however, and they've won it.
The hell of it is, most of the money will still end up going to the feds.
Attorneys Joel Androphy and Sarah Frazier represented a Texarkana woman who blew the whistle on her employer, Rotech Healthcare, for screwing the government via fake Medicare payments.
The feds had already settled some similar claims with Rotech, so they declined to take part in the suit. "Ninety-nine percent of the time the government says no, the cases disappear," Androphy tells Hair Balls. (Private attorneys don't have the vast resources or the intimidating reputation of the feds.)
It was announced today, though, that Rotech has agreed to pay an additional $2 million to settle the civil charges.
Most of that goes to the federal government, but the actual whistleblower, Sheila Bell-Messier, will get 27 percent, or $540,000.
-- Richard Connelly
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.