Whistleblower Pursues False Claims Act Case Against Motorola

Imagine this…

You’re an engineer who works for company providing technology under state contract to ensure that the chief law enforcement arm of the state has a 99.9% accurate system to screen fingerprints to detect criminals, identify security threats, and conduct background checks. This system will be used for important screening such as Department of Children and Families background checks for child caregivers and FDLE investigations. The state has entered a multi-million dollar contract with your employer for this fingerprint identification system costing state taxpayers several millions of  dollars. You learn, however, that the system is riddled with flaws that are well documented by your employer in internal company reports, and that those problems have in turn led to several millions of dollars of cost overruns passed onto the state.

But then you learn that your employer never discloses these problems or provides the reports to the state. And, ignorant of these problems, the state continues to pay your employer millions of dollars. When you complain to your employer about quality control issues with the fingerprint system, your employer transfers you off the project and eventually fires you.  What’s more, when you later file a whistleblower claim against your former employer on behalf of the state to recover the monies that the state paid wrongly and needlessly for a flawed system that did not conform to the specifications that the state was to receive, the state attorney general––after deciding not to intervene to become a party to the case; after the case has been pending for 40 months; and even after the case has been set for trial––summarily submits a notice dismissing the case for no apparent reason, with no prior notice to you even though you’d prosecuted the case for approximately three and a half years, and without even asking for or affording you or the public a hearing in the trial court.  This is the same attorney general who refused to even meet with you when you initially filed the claim and ostensibly utterly failed to conduct any thorough investigation before declining to intervene.  When you try to set a hearing on your challenge to the attorney general’s notice of dismissal, the attorney general files an emergency petition asking an appellate court to prohibit the trial judge from holding a hearing on the dismissal notice.

shutterstock_66271969This scenario parallels in colloquial terms the allegations made by the Qui Tam relator, Zoltan Barati, former Motorola engineer, whose whistleblower lawsuit against Motorola under the Florida False Claims Act, on behalf of the State of Florida, has been pending since September 9, 2009.  Tallahassee attorney David Moye is representing Zoltan Barati.  Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos, and Lehrman attorneys Gary Farmer Jr., Mark S. Fistos, and Gary Farmer Sr., wrote the brief and argued on behalf of the  Florida Justice Association, which appeared as amicus in the First District Court Appeal in opposition to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s writ of prohibition and allegedly roughshod attempt to dismiss Mr.  Barati’s whistleblower suit.

In a split decision issued on October 7, 2014, the First District Court of Appeal denied the Attorney General Bondi’s emergency petition, finding that the attorney general’s Petition was premature because she did not give the trial court a chance to determine its own jurisdiction.

Law360 reported on the First District’s decision. In an email to Law360, firm attorney, Gary Farmer Jr. indicated Mr. Barati would immediately seek ruling from the trial court on his challenge to the Attorney General’s dismissal attempt: “Then we shall see if the AG continues to attempt to obstruct our client’s attempt to recover money for the state that was the result of Motorola’s false claims.” He continued: “Given the state’s utter lack of investigation of this case (they never even met with our client, who was one of the experts working on the project for Motorola), their conduct recently has been quite disappointing. There is no justification for them to oppose us litigating this matter at our own cost…they should just smile and accept the check when we prevail.”

Attorneys at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L., actively represent whistleblowers at in state and federal jurisdictions.  With co-counsel, they are are currently involved in the appeal and the continuing pursuit of the Motorola case in the trial court.