Although whistleblowers benefit from strong public policies protecting the means by which they assert and support their False Claims Act (FCA) allegations, a recent decision highlights a possible counterclaim theory that empowers defendants to assert claims against the whistleblower. In U.S. ex rel. Notorfransesco v. Surgical Monitoring Association, Inc. et al., (E.D. Pa.), the whistleblower was a former employee of the defendant, and the defendant asserted a counterclaim based on the former employee’s taking and disseminating confidential information from the former employer, including using that information in the qui tam complaint. The counterclaim asserted breach of contract, implied contract and promissory estoppel theories.
The district court denied the whistleblower’s motion to dismiss the counterclaim, holding that the counterclaim raised claims that were independent of the FCA allegations and therefore were not against public policy. The court also held that the defendant had plausibly asserted that it could be entitled to injunctive relief and damages. Continue reading