Two whistleblowers allowed to continue in lawsuit against Downtown for-profit educator

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A federal judge today turned back Downtown-based for-profit educator Education Management Corp.'s efforts to dismiss two whistleblowers from a potential multibillion-dollar lawsuit against it.

EDMC had argued that two of its former employees -- Lynntoya Washington and Michael T. Mahoney -- who initiated accusations against it did so because they read articles about concerns regarding for-profit colleges. EDMC took the position that reading articles doesn't entitle someone to whistleblower status.

Though EDMC's motion would not have ended their lawsuit which has been joined by the Department of Justice and several states, it would have disqualified the two from receiving a portion of any recovery.

U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry wrote that publicity regarding the for-profit college industry doesn't bar Ms. Washington and Mr. Mahoney "from providing actionable information regarding alleged fraud by EDMC." They will remain part of the case, he wrote.

The two individuals and the government allege that EDMC based recruiter raises solely on the number of new students they enrolled, in violation of a federal law designed to reduce the number of misplaced students receiving aid, and implicating $11 billion in federal payments. EDMC has countered that enrollments were just one of numerous factors influencing recruiter pay.

The two filed the lawsuit under the False Claims Act, which allows whistleblowing "relators" to start cases alleging misuse of government funds, and then share in any settlement or judgment.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord. First Published June 18, 2014 12:00 AM

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