J. Martin Gerlinger was a much younger man in 1994. We all were. That year he filed a whistleblower suit against the Parsons – Dillingham Metro Rail Construction Joint Venture. (That’s quite a mouthful, we will just call the company Parsons Dillingham.) Over two decades later, the case was finally put to rest. This year the court dismissed whistleblower claims meaning a loss for Gerlinger. A prior award to the Los Angeles County MTA of $92.3 million is still on appeal by Parsons Dillingham.
We hate stories like these. Justice delayed is often not much justice at all.
Back in 1994, Gerlinger worked as finance manager for a subway construction consulting company. He believed that Parsons Dillingham was overbilling Los Angeles’ transit authority (the MTA) during construction of the subway line between Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.
Using a Civil War era whistleblower law, Gerlinger filed his complaint in a California federal court. That law, the federal False Claims Act, allows a whistleblower (called a “relator”) to receive a percentage of whatever is recovered from the wrongdoer.
The MTA filed its own suit and the two were consolidated. After years of legal wrangling, the MTA obtained a $92.3 million judgment against Parsons Dillingham. That award is presently under appeal.
In 1996, Gerlinger amended his complaint and a second whistleblower complaint using California’s state False Claims Act. Like the federal law, California’s act allows awards for losses to state and local tax dollars. (Much of the subway line was financed with federal highway dollars explaining Gerlinger’s first lawsuit in federal court.)
The timing of his two complaints and how they were filed would later come back to haunt Gerlinger. In April of this year, the judge tossed Gerlinger claims. That action, of course, will trigger yet another appeal.
This story reminds of a recent case this year involving overtime claims of several railroad workers. It took 43 years of litigation to resolve the issues. The workers “won” but many had long ago died. The railroad that owes the money isn’t even in existence any longer
There are two sides to every story and perhaps there is a decent reason why Gerlinger’s case took so long to conclude. (“Conclude is probably too strong a word because his lawyers say he is appealing.)
The victims, of course are taxpayers and whistleblowers. Having the right whistleblower lawyer is critical whenever you make a claim. As this case indicates, making the appropriate strategy and procedural decisions is key to avoiding a long and painful journey.
If you have original source information about fraud involving state or federal funds and programs, give us a call. Our dedicated and experienced team of whistleblower attorneys has collected over $100 million on behalf of our clients.
MahanyLaw – America’s Whistleblower Lawyers