No need to spell relieved when Judge Acker’s lip prints are all over his Order kissing Renfroe v Rigsby good-bye – and, just guessing, but I suspect there’s lipstick on the Rigbys’ copy and Renfroe’s, too.
The court having been informed that the parties in the above entitled action have reached a settlement, the action is hereby DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The parties shall have until 4:30 p.m., April 30, 2009, to request the substitution of a modified stipulated final judgment and to inform the court what should be done with the documents in the court’s custody. Unless there is a joint request to relinquish the documents to a named person, the documents will be shredded by the court.
The parties shall bear their own respective costs. DONE this 7th day of April, 2009.
Judge Acker’s realization that he’s stuck with a truckload of qui tam evidence in his office reminds me of State Farm’s Response to Relators’ Motion for Leave to Propound Expedited Document Requests in Order to Respond to Defendants’ Pending Dispositive Motions:
Turn the clock back to August 27, 2008:
Even if the Rigsbys’ proposed discovery was “specific and … directly relevant to the issues framed by these motions…it would still be subject to objection for at least two reasons: (1) it seeks the production of materials – in part – that State Farm cannot currently identify; and (2) it seeks the production of at least some materials that the Rigsbys may never have reviewed…
The documents in Judge Acker’s possession are the copied evidence collected by the Rigsby sisters. Justice requires and logic suggests they be returned – particularly since State Farm has admitted it does not currently know which parts were actually viewed, downloaded, printed or copied. As a result, a production of the complete files listed in the referenced Exhibit A would likely provide the Rigsbys certain documents previously unknown to them…
Whistleblowers are generally not liable for gathering or retaining an employer’s documents to support a qui tam action under the False Claims Act. While an employee owes a duty of loyalty to his or her employer, there are exceptions for situations where the employee has a good faith reason to believe the employer is engaged in fraudulent or illegal conduct. This exception has been codifi ed by the FCA and ensures that an employee cannot be retaliated against for exposing the employer’s fraudulent activity.
It is only by the whistleblower’s courage to uncover fraudulent and illegal activities that the Congressional intent behind the False Claims Act is fulfilled.