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Judge Denies Lockheed Martin’s Motion to Dismiss Citing Broad Scope of the Protected Conduct under the False Claims Act

In McNerney v. Lockheed Martin Operations Support, Inc., the court held that a whistleblower alleging wrongful termination in violation of the public policy promulgated under the False Claims Act does not have to show that the fraud she disclosed actually resulted in a loss to the government.  Judge Kays noted that that “the public policy behind the FCA is to protect the United States from ‘all fraudulent attempts to cause the Government to pay out sums of money.’” 

The plaintiff, Barbara McNerney, alleged in her complaint:

…Plaintiff was told by Defendant Sortor, to ‘spread the cost’ of certain projects to other unrelated projects. This caused certain projects to be falsely over billed.”  [The plaintiff] also alleges that McNerney complained about the false billing to her supervisor; that nothing was done about it; that this false billing violated the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”) and is contrary to public policy, and that McNerney was terminated as a result of complaining about this practice.

(citations omitted).  Judge Kays reasoned that one could infer from the facts alleged by McNerney that the defendant ordered her to spread the costs to unrelated projects in order to maximize the amount of money extracted from the government – money the government would not ordinarily have obligated – thus a potential violation of the False Claims Act.  This case highlights the importance of protecting a broad range of disclosures aimed at preventing fraud on the Government.  For more information about The Employment Law Group® and its Whistleblower Law Practice, click here.

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