(UPDATE: Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund named Peggy Ryan Whistleblower of the Year. Click here to read the announcement on TAF’s website. The James Hoyer Law Firm was also named Whistleblower Lawyers of the Year.)
In a striking decision, Endo Pharmaceuticals former employee Peggy Ryan was granted a whistleblower award close to the maximum percentage that a whistleblower can receive in a False Claims Act case. United States District Court Judge Robert Kelly in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that Ryan is entitled to a 24-percent share of the federal government’s portion of a settlement reached in 2014. The whistleblower reward amounts to $33.6 million for Ryan, who is a client of the James Hoyer law firm.
Decision Marks Strong Stand for Whistleblowers
“Judge Kelly’s decision is not only a testament to Peggy’s commitment in this decade long case, but also reaffirms the value of all whistleblowers and the False Claims Act as the government’s most powerful tool in fighting fraud,” said James Hoyer law firm managing partner Chris Casper.
The Court called Ryan’s efforts “nothing short of extraordinary” in explaining his decision. “Without the assistance of Ryan, the probability of the Government recovering any funds for the FCA violations would have been slim at best.”
The government disputed that Ryan should be entitled to 24 percent, instead arguing she should receive only 19 percent of the federal recovery. Judge Kelly sharply disagreed and indicated the government’s attempt to minimize Ryan’s significant contribution was misguided. “In light of the nature and abundance of her contributions, it is clear that Ryan was indispensable to the investigation.”
The case was first filed by Ryan, a pharmaceutical rep for Endo, in 2005, after she felt the company unduly pressured her to sell the Lidoderm patch off-label for unapproved uses. She showed remarkable strength and commitment over the past 10 years, helping the government make its case.
Ryan provided insider testimony, crucial documents and analysis, and even wore a wire for the FBI. “Throughout the nine-year period from her first qui tam complaint in 2005 to the settlement in 2014, Ryan continually provided access behind the corporate walls of Endo. Ryan’s insider status, conferred by her employment with Endo, enabled the government investigatory team to recover evidence which would have otherwise been unobtainable,” Judge Kelly explained.
In addition to “hours of incriminating evidence” recorded by Ryan and a bounty of invaluable documents, Judge Kelly also cited an 18-minute documentary produced by the James Hoyer law firm, which summarized the evidence in the Endo case, as a unique tool that helped to drive the case when it began to lag in 2010.
“An examination of the record exhibits that Ryan provided not only the spark for the investigation, but that she nurtured the flame at the darkest times when the possibility of a favorable outcome seemed most remote,” Judge Kelly wrote.
The Court’s decision on Ryan’s whistleblower award came exactly 10 years and 10 days after she first filed the case. “It has been a long and sometimes difficult road, but we are gratified that Peggy’s efforts to do the right thing are being recognized in such an extraordinary way,” said attorney Casper. “We are hopeful this decision will encourage other insiders with information regarding fraud against the government to come forward on behalf of American taxpayers. “It’s not easy to be a whistleblower,” he added, “but this decision shows their efforts are valued.”