A North Carolina federal judge Tuesday refused to dismiss a False Claims Act lawsuit claiming a University and some of its faculty knowingly falsified medical research data in order to get federal grants, saying that the whistleblower had adequately stated his case.
In a three-page order, U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Eagles denied dismissal motions by the University and individual defendants. The judge did not elaborate on her decision beyond saying that plaintiff had brought claims upon which relief could be granted.
At the time the alleged events occurred, the plaintiff was a laboratory research analyst in the Pulmonary, Asthma and Critical Care Division of the Health Systems. One of the defendants was a clinical research coordinator in that same division and is charged with directly manipulating the research in question, while another defendant, a research professor of medicine, was a direct supervisor.
This case is just one of the recent research misconduct cases initiated by whistleblowers, with false claims act implications. Researchers have exposure for alleged research misconduct from multiple sources. The consequences of a research misconduct allegation can be devastating to the individual researcher, as well as the sponsoring institution. Findings of research misconduct can result in exclusion from grants, termination of employment, and possible civil and criminal penalties.