Archive for January, 2015

Mississippi Truck Accident Attorneys Explain Wrongful Death Actions

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Mississippi Truck Accident Attorneys Explain Wrongful Death Actions

Commercial trucks are massive in size, often weighing up to 80,000 pounds and stretching several car lengths.  When these trucks collide with smaller passenger vehicles, the results can be catastrophic.  Each year, about 5,000 individuals are killed in truck accidents and another 130,000 are injured.

For the family members of those 5,000 individuals killed in truck accidents, life comes to an abrupt standstill.  Suddenly they are left coping with the loss of their loved one who was taken too soon.  The family suffers emotionally, and often financially as well.  The loss of the income of a breadwinner can be devastating to the average family.

In the state of Mississippi, the family members of deceased truck accident victims can seek compensation from the truck driver or trucking company who caused their relative’s death.  Compensation is pursued through a wrongful death suit.  Wrongful death actions offer grieving family members an opportunity to not only receive financial compensation but to ensure justice is served for the death of their loved one.

Parties Eligible to Bring a Wrongful Death Suit

Under Mississippi law, the following individuals are allowed to file a wrongful death suit:

  • The surviving spouse
  • The child or children of the truck accident victim
  • The surviving parent of the victim
  • The personal representative of the victim’s estate
  • Siblings of the deceased victim

When a surviving spouse initiates the action, any compensation awarded will be split between the surviving spouse and the victim’s children. If the victim is not married, divorced, or widowed, and does not have children, the surviving parents and siblings of the victim can bring a wrongful death suit and split the damage award.

Damages Awarded in a Wrongful Death Action

The damages awarded are divided between those that will go to the estate and those paid directly to the beneficiaries.

Damages that will go to the estate include: funeral and burial expenses; medical expenses, including expenses for emergency care prior to the victim’s death; and payments for destroyed or damaged property, such as the vehicle involved in the truck accident.

Damages paid directly to the beneficiaries include: pain and suffering experienced by the beneficiaries due to the loss of their relative; loss of the companionship and company of the victim; and lost wages or benefits that the victim would have earned had he or she survived.

Time Limits for Wrongful Death Suits

For most truck accidents, the victim’s family will have three years from the date of their relative’s death to file the action.  If the victim was killed as a result of an intentional act, which would rarely be case in a truck accident scenario, the family will have one year from the date of the victim’s death to bring the action.

It is important that you act quickly after the accident to secure the assistance of an attorney who will protect your legal rights and see that justice is achieved.

Barrett Law PLLC:  Assisting Your Family in the Aftermath of a Fatal Truck Accident   

Truck accidents hold the potential to inflict devastating injuries and death.  The loss of your loved one in a truck accident is one of the greatest tragedies imaginable.  Family members left behind will often find themselves emotionally and financially distraught.  The Mississippi Truck Accident Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC can assist your family following the loss of your relative in a fatal truck accident.  Our experienced attorneys will fight to see that your family is not left financially struggling due to the wrongful death of your loved one.  Call the exceptional truck accident attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation.

Mississippi BP Oil Spill Attorneys Discuss BP’s Potentially Massive Fines

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

BP currently faces up to $13.7 billion in fines for violating the federal Clean Water Act.  This is the largest penalty ever sought by the government, far exceeding the previous record of $1 billion paid by Transocean Ltd. in 2013 through a settlement involving the same disastrous 2010 oil spill.

BP is fighting the fine and the trial resumes on January 20, 2015.  There are several factors the court will consider in determining the fine to be lobbed against BP, including:

  1. How serious was the spill?

The court will first consider the severity of the 2010 oil spill.  Analysis will include the amount of oil spilled, the environmental impact of the spill, and how long the spill lasted.  U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier previously ruled that BP spilled in excess of 3.19 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, by far the largest spill ever recorded.  Oil spilled for 87 days.  The government argues that the spill had a tremendous environmental impact, while BP insists it was far less.

  1. Who was to blame for the spill?

This factor was already the subject of the first phase of the civil trial which concluded in 2013.  Judge Barbier has ruled that BP shouldered most of the blame for the spill.  He found BP to be grossly negligent in its actions, which propelled the government to seek such a high fine in the final phase of the lawsuit.

  1. Did BP economically profit from its negligent actions?

The court has already determined that BP cut many corners, leading up to the spill. However, both sides agree BP did not benefit from the spill.

  1. Has BP already paid other fines stemming from the spill?

The court is required to consider BP’s previous and future oil spill penalties in setting the fine.  BP has agreed to pay $4.5 billion in criminal penalties for the spill and faces fines under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment.

  1. Does BP have prior violations?

The federal government will look to establish that BP has a history of prior violations and a pattern of safety issues.  Previous violations include a 2005 explosion in an oil refinery and a 2006 pipeline rupture spill.  BP argues the court should only look to the BP subsidy, BP XP, that owned the well that exploded, rather than the parent company.

  1. What actions did BP take to mitigate the spill?

The court will consider BP’s efforts to cap and plug the well and clean up efforts.  BP has spent over $14 billion in clean up and response measures, but the government contends that BP was required by law to conduct the clean up and monies spent on clean up simply reflect the severity of the spill.

Barrett Law PLLC:  BP Oil Spill Attorneys Assisting All Ongoing Victims of the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

Oil company giant BP faces the largest ever water pollution fine as a result of the massive Gulf oil spill that continues to heavily impact the environment, as well as individuals and businesses in the region.  Time is running out to file your claim for compensation due to damages inflicted upon you by the BP oil spill.  The Mississippi BP Oil Spill Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC continue to fight for the victims of the spill, seeking full compensation for everyone who suffered physical or economic losses as a result of BP’s negligence.  Call Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation with one of our skilled BP oil spill attorneys.


Mississippi Whistleblower Attorneys Offer the Ten Things You Should Know Before You Blow the Whistle

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Whistleblowing results in the recovery of billions of U.S. dollars every year.  It is considered one of the greatest weapons against corporate fraud, and the brave whistleblowers who reveal illegal practices occurring to the detriment of the government are rewarded for their efforts.  Whistleblowers receive up to 30 percent of the funds recovered by the government, which can equate to millions of dollars when large scale fraud is unveiled.

If you are an employee considering blowing the whistle on your employer, the following list of things you should know before whistleblowing is for you:

  1. Whistleblowing is extremely effective in controlling corporate crime:  In interviewing a number of CEOs, CFOs, and CCOs from global corporations, Price Waterhouse found that whistleblowers are the most effective source of information for uncovering corporate crime.
  2. Do not delay:  Even if you have the best case, if you do not file on time it could be worth nothing.  Do not delay—seek legal assistance early on and ensure your action is timely filed.
  3. Be prepared for the blowback:  Whistleblowing is serious and can impact your career and family. You need to take steps to protect yourself and your job, which first involves securing the representation of an attorney you can trust.
  4. Embrace your whistleblower status:  Whistleblowers will often state that they are not whistleblowers; they are just doing their job.  While this may initially be true, it is important that whistleblowers accept their status change.  By embracing being a whistleblower, you will be better equipped to take action to protect your career.
  5. Don’t accept hush money:  Corporations have been known to essentially pay whistleblowers off so that they will not pursue action.  You will earn more and bring about justice by pursuing your whistleblower action.
  6. Be wary of hotlines: Large corporations often set up hotlines for employees to report wrongdoing.  Sometimes the hotlines are effective, other times they simply alert the company to take action against the complaining employee.
  7. Do not take legal advice from the corporate compliance officer:  The corporate compliance officer and hotline investigators work for the company, not the employees.  They are not obligated to inform employees of their legal rights and do not have the employees’ best interests at heart.
  8. Watch out for corporate confidentiality:  The details of the complaint will often make it easy for the corporate officials to figure out the identity of the whistleblower.  This puts you at risk for retaliation early on.  This makes it important for you to seek legal protection from the start.
  9. Do not break the law:  Make sure you do not break the law in gathering information concerning the corporate wrongdoing, or you could face legal action as well.
  10. Select the right attorney:  You could receive a large reward if your whistleblower action is successful, but your career is very much on the line.  Chose an experienced attorney who will successfully bring your case so that you receive the reward to which you are entitled.

Barrett Law PLLC:  Representing Whistleblowers in Qui Tam Cases and Related Matters  

Whistleblowers serve a vital function in society, curbing corporate fraud and protecting taxpayer funds.  Whistleblowing is a worthy action, but one that can be complex and can result in backlash to the whistleblower if they are not properly protected.  The Mississippi Whistleblower Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC offer superior legal services to any potential whistleblower.  We understand the array of complex issues involved in whistleblowing and will successfully bring your action while ensuring you do not become a victim of retaliation.  Call the experienced whistleblower attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation.

Mississippi Whistleblower Attorneys Discuss the Bradley C. Birkenfeld Case

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Bradley Birkenfeld is an American banker whose whistleblowing efforts earned him a massive award of $104 million from the IRS Whistleblower Officer.  Birkenfeld is also a convicted criminal who served two and a half years in prison for conspiring with a California developer to evade United States income taxes.  The story of Birkenfeld is a complex one and one that is again in the spotlight due to his recent request to be allowed to return to Europe while still on probation.  His story serves to highlight the importance of whistleblowers and the risks they undertake.

            Birkenfeld began his banking career in the currency trading department of State Street Bank and Trust.  There, Birkenfeld claims he first blew the whistle on illegal activities by approaching the FBI.  No indictments were issued as a result of his information.  Birkenfeld continued his career, eventually being hired at UBS in Geneva, Switzerland.  There, his job was primarily to solicit Americans to move their assets to the bank, enabling them to avoid paying U.S. taxes.  Though UBS was not permitted to offer investment advice in the U.S., Birkenfeld and his colleagues were instructed to do just that.

            According to Birkenfeld, UBS sponsored events designed to lure wealthy Americans then acted as salesmen offering a tax haven to clients.  One of their wealthiest clients was a California development who transferred some $200 million to UBS offices with Birkenfeld’s help.

            In 2005, Birkenfeld learned that his and UBS’s activities violated the agreement between the bank and the IRS.  He resigned and complained to UBS compliance officers as to the bank’s unfair and deceptive businesses practices.  He received no response and notified the bank’s attorney as well.

Sometime later, Birkenfeld decided to contact the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and inform them of the bank’s practices.  He sought to recover 30% of all funds the government was able to recover in the whistleblower action and immunity from prosecution.  When Birkenfeld arrived on U.S. soil, he was arrested.  He pled guilty to a count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. as a result of his activities while with UBS.

The DOJ justified Birkenfeld’s arrest by stating he did not have whistleblower status yet, and therefore could be prosecuted.  The DOJ did continue its investigation into the fraud, and eventually developed a criminal case.  USB agreed to pay a $780 million fine to the U.S. government in exchange for deferred prosecution.  Birkenfeld was awarded $104 million for his information, which the DOJ has since admitted was critical to the success of the case.

The government was harshly criticized for its treatment and prosecution of Birkenfeld, with the many protests and actions lobbed eventually leading to his early release.  Birkenfeld’s case will no doubt be instrumental to whistleblower law reforms today.  Currently, Birkenfeld is seeking permission to return to Europe where he wishes to move on with his life despite his continued probation obligations.  It is unclear at this time whether his request will be answered.

Barrett Law PLLC:  Mississippi Whistleblower Attorneys Helping Brave Whistleblowers  

Whistleblowers like Birkenfeld have saved the United States government billions of tax payer dollars.  Without courageous whistleblowers like Birkenfeld, our county’s funds would continue to be lost to fraudulent activity.  However, being a whistleblower is no easy task, as Birkenfeld’s case illustrates.  The Mississippi Whistleblower Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC assist whistleblowers with qui tam actions and related matters, ensuring their rights are fully protected and their efforts greatly rewarded.  Call the experienced whistleblower attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation.

Mississippi Car Accident Attorneys Reveal: Mississippi Ranked Among Nation’s Riskiest States for Drivers’ Wallets

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Mississippi drivers take among the greatest financial risks when they drive on any of the state’s many roadways, according to a recent study that analyzed insurance data from each state.  Online financial website WalletHub set out to rank the nation’s riskiest states for drivers’ wallets.  Calculations were based on factors such as insurance requirements and the state’s percentage of uninsured motorists.  Mississippi was ranked the fourth riskiest state according to the WalletHub study.

Richie Bernando of WalletHub explained that the proportion of drivers with no insurance ranged significantly across states, with a high of 25.9 percent of drivers lacking insurance in Oklahoma, while only 3.9 percent lacked coverage in Massachusetts.  There are also significant differences in each state’s insurance requirements.  States set different minimum liability coverage, which will protect other drivers in the event of an accident.

Mississippi had the third highest percentage of uninsured drivers at a whopping 22.9 percent.  Oklahoma exceeded this number by a few percentage points.  Interestingly, the study did not find a correlation between the state’s insurance minimum requirements and the percentage of drivers lack insurance.

Mississippi requires all drivers to carry minimum liability coverage of $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 property damage per accidents.  While these figures are on par with many other states, Mississippi, unlike 30 other states, does not require any additional coverage, including uninsured motorist coverage or medical payments coverage.

All Mississippi drivers are encouraged to add or increase their uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage due to the alarmingly high rate of uninsured drivers in the state.  As WalletHub reveals, law abiding drivers could find themselves in a difficult position in the event they are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is extremely affordable and one of the wisest things you can do to protect yourself in the event of an accident.  Often this coverage will cost you only a few extra dollars each month.

In the event you are in an accident with an uninsured/underinsured motorist, your insurance coverage will cover the damages that result from the accident, up to the limits you have pre-selected.  If you lack this vital coverage, your only option will be to seek a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.  In your claim, you can fight for compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and much more. However, you will need an attorney to represent you in this claim and recovery is not always easy.  The action will take longer than an insurance claim would have and you will sometimes have to outlay funds to successfully bring the action.  Further, in the event the at-fault driver lacks assets, you may have trouble collecting on the judgment.  As such, it is in the best interest of all Mississippi drivers to secure uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Barrett Law PLLC:  Assisting Drivers Injured by Under or Uninsured Drivers Across the State  

This new ranking is not one to be embraced by Mississippians.  Mississippi is known to have a high percentage of under or uninsured drivers, making it a dangerous place to drive.  If you have been injured in an accident involving an underinsured or uninsured driver, the Mississippi Car Accident Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC can help.  We understand the unique issues involved in such cases and will fight to see that you obtain a full recovery even when the case is a difficult one.  Call Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation with one of our exceptional car accident attorneys.

Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Offering Assistance to Injured Truckers

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

Many personal injury attorneys focus on representing motorists injured in accidents involving large commercial trucks.  While truck accidents do cause hundreds of thousands of injuries to drivers and passengers in the motor vehicles involved, truckers are also commonly injured in such crashes.  Recently, a man was killed in Jones County when his 18 wheeler truck crashed into a passenger vehicle.  The 42 year old truck driver died at the scene as a result of his injuries.

Emergency medical responders were called to the intersection of Spur Line Road and Mississippi 29 South.  According to investigators, the accident occurred when an individual driving a sedan pulled out onto Mississippi 29 from Spur Line Road.  The vehicle pulled directly in front of the 18 wheeler, which was traveling lawfully on Mississippi 29.  The truck driver attempted to swerve to avoid colliding with the vehicle but clipped the front passenger side of the car. When the vehicles collided, the car was knocked down an embankment on the side of the highway and the 18 wheeler plowed down the embankment into a ravine.  The now deceased trucker was trapped inside his truck.  The driver of the car sustained only minor injuries and is expected to make a full recovery.

When truckers and injured or killed in an accident while on the job, workers’ compensation will generally be their only avenue of relief.  Injured workers can seek reimbursement for their medical expenses and part of their lost wages through workers’ compensation.  The relatives of those killed while on the job can seek death benefits, which will usually include partial wage compensation, funeral, and burial costs.

The following is a list of steps injured truckers should take following any accident:

  • Report:  Report the accident to the police and your employer.  Record the injury in your logbook as soon as possible.  Obtain a copy of the police report and tell your employer in detail, in writing, precisely how the accident happened.  If your employer requires a certain form be used, be sure to turn in the form.
  • Write:  Write down your description of the accident as soon as possible after it happens, while it is still fresh in your memory.  Include any witness names, addresses, and phone numbers.  Take pictures of the scene of the accident and the damage to you, as well as your truck.
  • Seek Medical Attention:  Even if you are unsure of the extent of your injuries, seek medical attention right away after the accident.  Inform your doctor as to what occurred and provide a full description of any pain or problems which you are experiencing.
  • Don’t Sign:  Do not sign any document or offer any recorded statements unless you have consulted with an attorney who approves of you doing so and is present at the time.
  • Call a n Attorney:  As soon as you can after the accident, retain the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who understands the unique issues involved in trucker workers’ compensation claims.

Barrett Law PLLC:  Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Offering Assistance to Injured Truckers  

Truckers are involved in accidents every day across the nation.  While many accident attorneys focus on injured drivers and passengers of motor vehicles, the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC have considerable experience representing truckers who are injured in accidents while on the job.  We understand the complexities often involved in receiving full benefits following your truck accident.  Our attorneys have the knowledge and skill to fight for your full recovery.  Call the renowned workers’ compensation attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation.

Mississippi Automobile Accident Attorneys Discuss the Growing Problem of Drugged Driving

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

Drugged driving is an emerging problem across the U.S., but many people are unaware of the magnitude of the problem.  Some of the unique challenges faced today include:

  • Thousands if not tens of thousands of impairing drugs exist, both illegal and legal, that hold the potential to impair driving ability.  Drugs that can impair driving extend far beyond illicit drugs, to include prescription drugs, over the counter drugs, and legal medicinal or recreational marijuana.
  • Many drivers get behind the wheel after consuming a mix of drugs and alcohol.  This dual use, known as poly use, results in serious impairment and creates a whole host of serious issues.
  • Currently, there is no system for widespread data collection among the states concerning drugged driving like there is for drunk driving.

What is Drugged Driving?

Drugged driving is defined as the presence of legal or illegal substances that impair driving ability.  Poly abuse is defined as a person mixing drugs and alcohol, then getting behind the wheel.

How Drugs Affect Driving Skills

Drugs have an effect on nearly every system in the body, and their impact extends to:

  • Reaction time:  Drugs will slow a driver’s response and reaction times.
  • Coordination:  Drugs impact the nerves and muscles, making reasonable steering, braking, accelerating, and overall control of the vehicle difficult.
  • Judgment:  Drugs have great cognitive effects, hindering a person’s ability to assess risks and hazards by decreasing the fear response and thus increasing risk taking behavior.
  • Attention:  A variety of drugs are known to make it difficult for individuals to focus and process information.
  • Tracking:  Drugs diminish a driver’s ability to stay in their lane and maintain a safe following distance.
  • Perception:  Some 90 percent of the information processed by the brain is visual, making vision impairment due to drugs a serious danger.

Even a small amount of drugs can have a measureable effect on one’s driving ability and not all individuals react the same to every drug, even prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

Drugged Driving Presents Legal Challenges

While each state has set a maximum blood alcohol content level that is legal for an individual to still be able to drive, drugs cannot so easily be measured.  Testing for drug usage is not always as simple as a Breathalyzer test or even a blood test.  Some drugs can quickly leave the system, while others will remain there for long periods of time, making drug tests inaccurate for the purposes of charging someone with drugged driving.

Most states have taken the approach of evaluating the impact of the drugs on the person’s driving and coordination.  While this will accurately detect drug usage for some drugs, others may escape arrest.  New methods for combating drugged driving will likely be necessary in the future.

Barrett Law PLLC:  Fighting for the Recovery of DUI and Drugged Driving Victims  

Drugged driving is becoming a growing concern among road users across the U.S.  There are a number of drugs, both illegal and illegal, as well as prescription and over-the-counter, that impair a driver’s ability to responsibly focus on the road ahead.  Drugged driving can also be harder to detect as testing for these substances is more difficult than it is for alcohol.  The Mississippi Automobile Accident Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC have assisted numerous victims of drugged driving.  We understand the unique issues that surround these cases and will fight to see that you obtain the compensation you deserve and justice is served.  Call the outstanding automobile accident attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation.

Mississippi Truck Accident Attorneys Offer Insights Into How to Choose a Truck Accident Attorney

Monday, January 5th, 2015

When you have been injured in any type of truck accident, selecting the right personal injury can be a difficult decision.  You need an attorney who will ensure that your case is successful and you receive the compensation that you deserve.  Choosing a truck accident attorney is not always easy and accident victims often have no idea where to begin.  We offer the following helpful hints to selecting the right accident attorney so you can focus on your recovery:

  1. Experience:  When it comes to a truck accident case, and really any personal injury action, you will want an attorney with some experience.  Truck accident cases are complex and require extensive knowledge of this special area of the law, as well as the practical aspects, such as negotiation.  You need an experienced litigator and skilled negotiator so that your case is in the best of hands, whether it settles early on or proceeds all the way to trial.
  2. Focus:  A lot of attorneys will represent clients in a broad range of matters, taking personal injury cases on the side while conducting mostly criminal law, for instance.  Due to the unique and complex nature of truck accidents, victims should look for an attorney with intimate knowledge of this field of law.  An attorney who focuses on truck accident cases will be more likely to recognize crucial evidence to your recovery and achieve a full damage award.
  3. Reputation:  You need a truck accident attorney with a strong reputation in the community.  Attorneys who receive accolades, peer recommendations, and testimonials from previous clients will be the best choice.  You want an attorney who is tough but can also work well with others and maintain a good report with the insurance companies.  If your personal injury attorney has a reputation as a strong negotiator who is also willing to go to trial then the insurance company is more likely to take your case seriously and reach a strong settlement early on.
  4. Resources:  The strength of your case will hinge on the experts you employ along with the experience and ability of your attorney.  A strong truck accident attorney will conduct extensive investigations and have several experts at their disposal in order to build your case.  Medical and accident reconstruction experts will offer insight into the accident and its effect on your health along with everyday functioning.   Their testimony strongly impacts your ultimate damage award.
  5. Testimonials:   When you first meet with your potential truck accident attorney, you should ask them for testimonials from previous clients.  Most attorneys will gladly provide you with documentation as to what their prior clients have to say about their representation.  Sometimes client testimonials will additionally be posted on the attorney’s website, offering you a glimpse into the attorney’s level of service before you meet with him or her.

Choosing the right attorney is not easy, but with these factors in mind you should be able to select that attorney who will successfully bring your case to completion.

Barrett Law PLLC:  Mississippi Truck Accident Lawyers Ensuring Your Full Recovery 

Your choice of truck accident attorney will greatly impact your later recovery.  Do not neglect the importance of interviewing attorneys and selecting a qualified attorney to represent you no matter the complexity of the truck accident.  The Mississippi Truck Accident Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC have decades of experience and the accolades to show for it.  We understand the unique issues involved in truck accident cases and will aggressively fight for your full recovery.  Call the superior truck accident attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation.

Mississippi Whistleblower Attorneys Report: VA Settles Dozens of Whistleblower Complaints

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

The Veterans Affairs Department recently stated that it will offer relief to more than two dozen employees who experienced retaliation after filing whistleblower complaints concerning wrongdoing at VA hospital locations throughout the U.S.  This is the next step after settlements that were reached last year with three Phoenix employees who reported widespread problems at that facility, including chronic delays and other serious issues.  The public outcry over VA conditions and the handling of whistleblowers led to the replacement of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and a complete overhaul of the agency, making it easier for senior officials to be terminated.

The VA’s latest actions offer relief to about 25 employees, including one doctor who was formally reprimanded and retired after reporting serious errors at the Maryland clinic and a nurse who was fired after refusing to falsify a performance evaluation for a subordinate.  The nurse will keep her job while the investigation continues and the doctor will have the reprimand removed from his record.

Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner has applauded the efforts of the VA to protect its employees who generate whistleblower complaints.  Lerner’s office, which is independent of any government agency, is currently investigating some 120 complaints of retaliation at the VA following whistleblower complaints that included understaffing, improper patient scheduling, prescription medication errors, and much more.  The complaints are spread across 970 VA hospitals and clinics across the nation, including the Jackson, Mississippi VA.

The new VA secretary, Robert McDonald, vowed to uncover and eliminate retaliation by seeking to change the culture that discourages speaking out.  He hopes that the agency will take action to encourage employees bringing complaints to the attention of management.

Secretary McDonald has stated that he takes whistleblowing very seriously and sees it as essential in improving veterans’ care.  Sloan Gibson, the Deputy VA Secretary, has additionally publically stated that his department is committed to holding those who retaliate against whistleblowers accountable for their wrongful actions.  Employees who report legitimate problems need to be protected, not punished, Gibson believes.

The G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, located in Jackson, MS has been at the heart of the whistleblowing action.  Over the past few years, a number of whistleblower complaints arose out of this office concerning troubling aspects of the VA’s management practices and patient care.  Concerns included the lack of proper sanitation of instruments, long wait times, errors in diagnosis, and much more.

Two doctors headed the whistleblower movement in this hospital and, after being ignored for years, their information finally brought about change.  While the VA appears to be moving in the right direction concerning the recognition of whistleblower concerns, there is still much change that needs to be seen in order for whistleblowers to feel safe bringing their concerns to light.

Barrett Law PLLC:  Representing Whistleblowers in Qui Tam Cases and Related Matters  

The doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals that stepped forward throughout the VA system have been agents for change within this healthcare network.  Veterans deserve the best of care after making sacrifices for our country, and it is thanks to the VA whistleblowers that action is now being taken to correct mistreatment and poor patient care.  If you are an employee or former employee aware of fraud or wrongful actions taking place in your workplace, the Mississippi Whistleblower Attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC can help.  We will assist you in bringing your action and ensuring your information reaches the right channels.  Call the experienced whistleblower attorneys at Barrett Law PLLC today at 1 (800) 707-9577 to schedule your free consultation.