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Texas whistleblower case continues over altered records

A Texas woman who was previously employed as a county clerk is suing her former employer for whistleblower retaliation. According to a lawsuit filed in state court, the clerk was fired after she reported alteration of government records, death certificates specifically. Based on the information now available, it is unclear why the death certificates were altered.

The parties have been engaged in the pretrial process since earlier this year when the suit was filed, and recently the defense (the county) filed a motion to compel the former clerk to produce evidence that they have been requesting.

The motion to compel means that the plaintiff, who is the whistleblower, is apparently not providing the opposition with the information it is requesting during the discovery process. A motion to compel her to produce the information that is granted by the court will require her to give the defendants the information that they want, or she will risk sanctions from the court and possibly case dismissal if noncompliance becomes a trend.

This is an example of why it is so important for attorneys to do their best in good faith to comply with the normal process of trial and with court orders. It is not clear in this case why the plaintiff has not responded to the requests, but it is possible that there is a reason that will excuse the conduct.

As for the whistleblower claim itself, the success of that action with hangs on the evidence that is produced. If the defense finds that the whistleblower has convincing evidence that there was wrongdoing that she rightfully reported, then they may offer her a settlement in lieu of proceeding to trial. If not the parties may take their chances at trial and allow the jury to determine the outcome of the case.

Source: Southeast Texas Record, "Jefferson County, JP seek to compel discovery in whistleblower suit," David Yates, Jan. 15, 2013.

Information about retaliation is available on our Texas whistleblower protection page.

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