Timothy O'Toole Comments on Lawyers as Whistleblowers in Inside Counsel

"Whistling an ethical tune"
Inside Counsel
04.01.14Timothy O'Toole commented on the legal and ethical provisions that generally prevent lawyers from seeking and obtaining whistleblower awards that have been introduced as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. In a recent Second Circuit case, United States ex rel. Fair Labor Practices Associates v. Quest Diagnostics Inc., et al., a group of employees decided to sue because of what they alleged to be an illegal pricing scheme. When the general counsel was brought in, he divulged all details of the legal work he had done for the company, specifically regarding the kickbacks at issue in the suit. "The court assumes that the lawyer would have been allowed to talk about some aspects of the scheme in order to prevent a future crime, but other courts have rejected this as being too close to the ethical line," O'Toole said. In this instance, including the general counsel in conversations tainted information presented by other executives. O'Toole said a key message is that in cases like these, including an inside lawyer may cause more harm than good. "If you involve a lawyer and get it wrong, you mess the whole case up," he said.
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