Trials & Litigation
Pfizer Whistle-Blower’s $51.5M Payday Could Spark More Qui Tam Suits
Posted Sep 2, 2009 6:09 PM CST
By Martha Neil
Five whistle-blowers will share $102 million as part of a record-breaking $2.3 billion settlement by Pfizer Inc. of a federal criminal probe and civil qui tam litigation over the company's drug-marketing practices.
Among those expecting a hefty payday under the False Claims Act is a former Texas sales representative for the company, John Kopchinski of San Antonio. His s expected to get $51.5 million, reports Reuters.
It will come in handy: Fired by Pfizer in 2003, the Gulf War veteran already had a baby son and his wife was pregnant with twins. He eventually found a $40,000-a-year job to replace his $125,000-a-year position with Pfizer and lived off of retirement savings in the meantime, the news agency recounts.
Now 45, Kopchinski says he and his wife don't plan to move or make major changes in their lifestyle, but look forward to not having to worry about money or how they will pay for their children's college education. He was represented in the case by Erika Kelton of Phillips & Cohen.
News of the financial rewards that can result from bringing corporate wrongdoing to light is prompting others to consider following in Kopchinski's footsteps, says attorney Dean Zerbe, who reports that his phone has been ringing this morning. A partner of Zerbe Fingeret Frand and Jadav, in Washington, D.C., he is senior counsel for the National Whistleblowers Center.
"The use of whistle-blowers has really opened up the keys to the kingdom in terms of what's going on in these companies," he tells Reuters, adding "You'd never find out what's happening without this kind of reward structure."