Last week, The Daily Cavalier, a newspaper serving the University of Virginia community in Charlottesville, Virginia, interviewed Adam August Carter, principal of The Employment Law Group® law firm, on his client, Dr. Weihua Huang’s recent $819,000 whistleblower retaliation jury verdict.
Dr. Huang was a UVA researcher working on a research project funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) who faced retaliation and termination after reporting improper and unauthorized modifications to the terms of a National Institute of Health (NIH) research grant.
On October 12, 2012, a federal jury awarded Dr. Huang compensation for back pay which accumulated after his termination in November 2009, as well as approximately $500,000 in non-economic damages, including damage done to his academic reputation. Additionally, Dr. Huang may receive further compensation in the form of court fees and costs and “front-pay”, or funds which would compensate him for the future earnings Huang could have receive had he continued in his position at UVA.
According to Dr. Huang’s attorney, Adam Augustine Carter, the recent ruling could have a significant impact on UVA and judicial precedent regarding the False Claim Act, a federal law that permits legal action against individuals or corporations that fraudulently obtain government funds.
Specifically, according to Mr. Carter, “it’s clear now that the University accepts federal funds in trust for the benefit of all the taxpayers and that the University is not going to be permitted to make changes at its whim without the clear authorization of the principal investigator.”
Mr. Carter further mentioned that this case may not mark the last time the issue arises either, noting that “[the defendants] said they do this all the time and that it’s routine, which tells me that this [ruling] is really going to shake up the way the accounting is going to be done on these NIH grants,” he said.
The article, entitled “Whistleblower wins unfair contract termination suit: Court ruling awards former laboratory researcher more than $800,000, finds unfair contract termination”, was published on October 17, 2012 in the online edition of The Cavalier Daily.
The Employment Law Group® law firm’s whistleblower attorneys have helped many clients file suit against employers that fraudulently bill the U.S. government, and have established favorable precedents under the retaliation provision of the False Claims Act.