Coloplast, a Minneapolis-based medical device provider, agreed to pay more than $760,000 to Amy Lestage, who claimed the company retaliated against her after she blew the whistle on company wrongdoing.
Lestage, along with two other former employees of Coloplast, filed a False Claims Act case in December 2011. Defendants included Byram Healthcare and other large distributors of medical devices and services. In the suit, the plaintiffs alleged the companies perpetrated an illegal kickback scheme to boost their reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, defrauding the federal government.
The whistleblower action was unsealed in November 2014, resulting in the names of Lestage and other defendants becoming public knowledge.
Once it became public that Lestage was one of the plaintiffs in the qui tam suit, Byram Healthcare’s CEO requested she be removed from managing the company’s account and replaced with another employee. Coloplast not only complied with the request, but then placed Lestage on paid administrative leave for a year. In June 2015, Lestage filed an FCA retaliation claim against Coloplast, claiming the company violated the anti-retaliation provision of the suit, a provision that prohibits retaliation against any employees who file whistleblower lawsuits.
The jury in the case ruled in Lestage’s favor, awarding her more than $760,000 in damages. The court upheld the jury’s verdict based on Lestage’s evidence of harm she suffered. Lestage had testified about how she was made to handle less lucrative accounts upon her return, and provided detailed accounts of her experiences with anxiety and emotional distress due to the indefinite leave on which she was placed. She also had expert testimony support her with her calculation of damages she suffered.
If you believe you have been retaliated against for blowing the whistle on company wrongdoing, contact an experienced whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group to learn more about how to proceed with your case.