Court won't seal False Claims suit against RehabCare, despite whistleblower's fear of retaliation

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A whistleblower's fear of retaliation isn't sufficient to justify sealing her False Claims Act lawsuit filed against RehabCare Group Inc., a judge ruled on Friday.

Shelly Evans, a former RehabCare employee, claimed the Kindred Healthcare subsidiary filed Medicare claims for therapy services that were inadequate, not medically reasonable, or not provided to residents at all.

Evans filed the case under seal, anticipating a federal investigation. When the government declined to get involved in the case, Evans requested that the proceedings of the case be dismissed and remained sealed, citing her fear of retaliation from current and future employers and a desire to remain employed in the healthcare industry.

Judge Ronnie L. White with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri disagreed with Evans' claims that she faces “significant” risk of harm if the case were unsealed. White cited previous court cases in finding that Evans' “concerns are no different from those of the many employees who bring suits against their employers or former employers for various reasons.”

“These employees continue to bring suits without the protection of sealing the case,” the opinion reads. “There is no reason that retaliation concerns should merit special protection.”

White ordered the case's original complaint, amended complaint, and several other pleadings to be unsealed “in favor of public access to judicial records.”