Search Site

Whistleblower Claim Worth $112 Million to Proceed Against Duke and Researchers

A federal judge has ruled that a whistleblower lawsuit filed against Duke University and a pair of researchers can proceed.

The lawsuit alleges the university and researchers were able to secure $112 million in federal funding based on fraudulent work. The lawsuit was initially filed under the False Claims Act in 2013. If successful, it could cause the school to lose three times the amount of grant money it received, while entitling the whistleblower to tens of millions of dollars in awards.

Details of the lawsuit

The lawsuit implicates two researchers: Erin Potts-Kant and William Foster (Potts-Kant’s supervisor). The researchers and Duke University filed motions to dismiss the case in April, but a federal judge ultimately ruled the case would proceed.

Joseph Thomas, a former Duke University employee who worked in the university’s pulmonary division as a research analyst in the laboratory with Potts-Kant and Foster, filed the claim. Thomas alleges that Potts-Kant used a tool called a flexiVent machine to tailor the results of her experiments. In some cases, she deliberately did not expose mice to the medication, chemical or other exposure required by the experiments. In other cases, she allegedly altered the results to fit her purposes. Her papers later became the basis for successful grant applications totaling $112 million.

Potts-Kant was arrested in March 2013 after being accused of embezzling $14,000 from the university to fund her own personal spending sprees. She pleaded guilty and was forced to pay a fine, in addition to serving probation and performing mandatory community service.

The lawsuit also claims Foster and the university did not properly supervise the work of Potts-Kant in a way that would have prevented the fraud.

If you would like to explore your options for filing a whistleblower claim, contact a skilled and experienced Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers.

Awards & Honors
Our Office
  • Dallas Office
    4514 Cole Ave
    Dallas, Texas 75205
    Phone: 214-306-8045
    Fax: 469-729-9926
As Seen In
In his new book, "Standing Up to China: How a Whistleblower Risked Everything for His Country," former client & Author, Ashley Yablon, quotes Attorney Steve Kardell about Whistelblower Law.
  • "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.