Former Duke lab research analyst, Joseph Thomas, sued the university after discovering that data had been falsified in order to secure $1 million in federal grants. Following the allegations, Duke has to agree to pay the U.S. government a settlement of $112.5 million of which Thomas will receive $33.75 million for bringing the case forward as a whistleblower under the False Claims Act. Counsel for the plaintiff, is John Thomas, of Healy Hafemann Magee in Virginia.
According to the lawsuit, Thomas was working as a lab analyst at Duke when he realized that one of the university’s most valuable projects, which documented the lung functions of mice, was submitting falsified data in an effort to secure grants. The fraudulent data earned grants from major institutions for its continuation, including the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Thomas alleges that the submitted claims took place over several years, and were mainly lead by former pulmonary division clinical research coordinator, Erin Potts-Kant. The lawsuit explains that Potts-Kant’s position included the responsibility of validating the data of all completed experiments prior to any claims being submitted. However, Thomas alleges that this rarely occurred and instead much of the submitted data was entirely falsified.