The U.S. Supreme Court has remanded a previously dismissed whistleblower lawsuit back for trial in a unanimous decision with broad implications for public hospitals and clinics. The court's decision that municipalities do not enjoy state immunity from False Claims Act lawsuits is viewed as a victory for whistleblowers. "This case makes it clear that city- or county-owned hospitals or other municipal entities . . . cannot claim state immunity and must play by the same rules that private providers do," said Mark Kleiman, a whistleblower attorney in Los Angeles. "The court also said that the treble damages allowed under the act can be seen as compensatory, designed to pay back the government and the whistleblower for the cost of playing cop." The 1997 whistleblower lawsuit was filed in Chicago against Cook County Hospital and Cook County, Ill., over alleged fraud in a treatment program for pregnant women with drug addictions. -- by Mark Taylor
High court limits use of state immunity
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