A whistleblower at a California based life science company has been awarded nearly $8 million by the jurors hearing his case. The claimant served as general counsel at Bio-Rad when he discovered possible bribery being committed in China by senior management of the company. He duly reported the potential violations of the Federal Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) internally to an audit committee that investigated them and concluded there had been no wrongdoing.
The investigation lasted four months after the internal memo was originally filed by the informant in February of 2013. In June that same year, the plaintiff was fired after 25 years of service at Bio-Rad. The company claimed his termination was due to his erratic work and loud outbursts, but his 2012 performance review was largely positive. No documentation of the alleged behavioral problems existed aside from a review in April 2013. The trial hinged on the plaintiff’s team using metadata to show that the review had actually been created in July, after the firing. Attorneys for the plaintiff called the review “a despicable lie” and said it had been fabricated to justify his wrongful termination.
The jury deliberated less than three hours and unanimously found that Bio-Rad had fired the counselor in retaliation for his whistleblowing actions. He was awarded $2.9 million in back pay and stock compensation, along with $5 million in punitive damages. Because the Dodd-Frank Act doubles back pay for whistleblower retaliation, the award total will increase to nearly $11 million.
In November 2014, Bio-Rad was forced to pay $55 million in fines to settle violations of the FCPA. The Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission brought criminal charges and civil claims against the company alleging improper payments were made to foreign officials in Vietnam, Thailand, and Russia. In testimony, the whistleblower said he had found documents detailing the distribution of free products to clients in China. He filed his qui tam lawsuit against Bio-Rad and its CEO charging the disclosure of his findings should have been protected under the whistleblower provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The jury agreed, awarding the man one of the highest amounts ever granted under the Act.
Philadelphia Whistleblower Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Defend Whistleblowers
If you suspect wrongdoing at your workplace it takes tremendous courage to step forward and blow the whistle on such conduct. There are laws to protect whistleblowers and prevent retaliation against them. The Philadelphia whistleblower lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green are here to discuss your situation with you and provide guidance. Call 215-574-0600 or contact us online to schedule an appointment at our Philadelphia offices. We represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and South Jersey.