Anthony Pacheco, partner at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP, spoke at the 2016 Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM) Midwest Conference held June 23 at the Hilton Omaha. His session was titled, “Whistle While You Work – How to Prevent Activity Leading to Whistleblower Actions and Protect Health Organizations and Medical Practices from Whistleblower Threats.”
Pacheco’s fellow presenters were Christine Zack, Senior Vice President, Chief Risk Officer of Fundamental Administrative Services, LLC; Jacqueline Bloink, Health Information Technology Professor at Saddleback College; and Linda Taetz, Senior Vice President, Chief Compliance Officer of Mariner Health Central, Inc.
Utilizing an interactive approach with the conference participants, the panel of industry experts discussed how whistleblowers, both real and purported, have become a part of everyday business life. The panel stressed that failing to prepare for complaints about illegal and/or unethical activities, and ignoring or minimizing these complaints is a recipe for disaster.
The presentation was structured to assist organizations with identifying whistleblowers, the sources of complaints and the best practices for handling them, and managing the substantial risks associated with responding. The presenters also made recommendations for steps companies can take to prepare and protect the organization before a complaint is made, with a focus on technology policies that can be implemented to protect companies from whistleblowers.
The panel also directed the audience’s attention to the more recent phenomenon of in-house counsel acting as whistleblowers, and the 2nd Circuit’s 2013 ruling in United States ex. rel. Fair Laboratory Practices Associates v. Quest Diagnostics Inc., et al., a case where a qui tam action was dismissed because the participation of a former in-house attorney caused prejudice to the defendants.
As both Chief Risk Officer and in-house counsel for Fundamental Administrative Services, LLC, Zack is no stranger to threatened whistleblower actions and the importance of preserving the confidentiality of information obtained as an in-house attorney. “Whistleblower threats are some of the most critical and sensitive matters that face healthcare and other organizations,” said Zack, who stressed that “organizations should be proactive in developing policies to prevent illegal and unethical conduct while simultaneously implementing policies which mitigate the risk of the improper disclosure of confidential information.”
Zack further emphasized the importance of retaining experienced outside counsel, such as JMBM’s Corporate Defense and Investigations Group, to guide organizations through threatened whistleblower actions, noting that early involvement of experienced outside counsel can help companies avoid a threat from turning into active litigation.
About JMBM’s Corporate Defense and Investigations Group
JMBM’s Corporate Defense Group is keenly focused on our clients’ business objectives and is committed to minimizing the disruptive effects, anxiety and the intense public scrutiny that can arise from criminal and civil litigation. The Corporate Defense Group is a leader in the representation of corporations, boards of directors, management and individuals in connection with a broad range of government investigations, enforcement actions, remediation and compliance, administrative proceedings, internal investigations and white collar criminal investigations and litigation.
About the CLM
The Claims and Litigation Management Alliance promotes and furthers the highest standards of claims and litigation management and brings together the thought leaders in both industries. CLM’s Members and Fellows include risk and litigation managers, insurance and claims professionals, corporate counsel, outside counsel and third party vendors. The CLM sponsors educational programs, provides resources and fosters communication among all in the industry. To learn more about the CLM, please visit www.theclm.org.