Search Site
Menu
A Texas Whistleblower Must Blow his Whistle to a Proper Law Enforcement Authority

In addition to being a professor of surgery at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW), Dr. Larry Gentilello was the Chair of the Division of Burn, Trauma and Critical Care.  Gentilello reported to a supervisory faculty member that trauma residents were providing treatment and performing surgeries without the supervision of an attending physician as required by Medicare and Medicaid. Removed from his faculty position, Gentilello filed a suit pursuant to the Texas Whistleblower Act. The Texas Supreme Court dismissed Gentilello’s suit, concluding that he did not report the alleged misconduct to a law enforcement authority, failing the good faith element of the Act.

Texas Whistleblower Act

The Texas Whistleblower Act decrees that a state or city government may not retaliate in employment against a public employee who in good faith informed an appropriate law enforcement authority of a violation of law by the employing governmental entity or another public employee. The law provides injunctive and compensatory relief for the whistleblower who was retaliated against.

In good faith, inform a proper law enforcement authority

A key element of the Texas Whistleblower Act is that the whistleblower must report the misconduct or illegal activity to an appropriate law enforcement authority. Gentilello reported that residents were doing operations and providing medical care without proper supervision from an attending physician to a supervisory faculty member who had the authority to make sure that UTSW is complying with Medicaid and Medicare. The Texas Supreme Court concluded he was only a law compliance authority, and that the law requires a law enforcement author.

The court instructed that a law enforcement authority, as defined by the Act, must be empowered to enforce, investigate or prosecute violations of law against parties outside of its own agency or it must be empowered to enact regulations governing the conduct of such third parties.

Direction for the future

The Texas Supreme Court determined that the question of whether a whistleblower reported in good faith to a proper law enforcement authority is a question of law for the court to decide.  Future Texas whistleblower cases need to carefully review the facts to evaluate if their whistleblower’s reports of misconduct were addressed to the correct authority.

If you are involved in a matter involving misconduct at a governmental agency, contact a Texas whistleblower attorney to discuss the merits of your claim.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Honors
Our Office
  • Dallas Office
    4514 Cole Ave
    #600
    Dallas, Texas 75205
    Phone: 214-306-8045
    Fax: 469-729-9926
Testimonials
  • "Steve Kardell was terrific in representing me in some very adversarial discussions with Citigroup and also later represented me in my testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission."  -Richard Bowen, Citigroup Whistleblower

  • "Incredible knowledge of employee related concerns and equally brilliant knowledge of health care regulations, standards of practice. I would recommend this firm to anyone."  -V.B.

  • "Reaching out to Steve Kardell was the best decision I made. His ability to provide immediate insight and direction was very powerful, and a huge relief during a very stressful time period. For anyone struggling with a whistleblower situation, I would highly recommend at least speaking with Steve. After a 10 minute call with him, I had a better understanding of what I was dealing with. Even better, he gave me some immediate hope. In the end Steve did a better job than I thought was possible. Steve was able to get in contact with people in my organization, that I didn’t have access to. Because of his years of experience, he already has contacts in many organizations in Dallas. The entire situation was handled peacefully. I was impressed by his ability to “keep the peace”–rather than creating a battle with the organization. The reason I didn’t reach out to a lawyer initially, was because I thought it would mean an immediate end to any hope of a positive relationship with the company. Steve was able to address my concerns, and in the end I was able to continue to work for them."  -KS

  • "Never thought my career would end like it did after 30 years of service. I was part of the first round of the so called reduction of force. I asked myself how can I be part of this with 30 years of seniority. How did they pick these 90 plus employees? Now, the culture of this organization made you question every decision they made. It wasn’t what you knew it’s was a culture of who you know. Nonetheless, I did not accept their severance package. I immediately starting looking for an attorney who would take on my case. After the initial call to Steve I had hope again. He was open and honest about everything and reassured me he would do his best for me, and he did. I had an awesome outcome. Thanks Steve you’re the best."  -S.S.

FOLLOW US
Facebook Twitter Linkedin RSS Feed JD Supra