About David K. Colapinto
David K. Colapinto is a nationally recognized advocate for whistleblowers specializing in Qui Tam False Claims Act cases and whistleblower reward claims before the SEC, CFTC, and IRS. For more than 30 years he has successfully representing many whistleblowers in state and federal courts and before numerous agencies.
Among his many accomplishments, Mr. Colapinto was lead counsel for one of the whistleblowers in a major qui tam/False Claims action against the drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb, helping to recover more than $500 million for U.S. taxpayers and the government, and he was co-counsel for Bradley Birkenfeld helping to recover the largest ever tax whistleblower award ($104 million) for Mr. Birkenfeld in 2012. He has also successfully handled many other qui tam cases under the False Claims Act and other whistleblower award laws resulting in millions of dollars in recoveries for taxpayers and whistleblowers.
Mr. Colapinto also helped secure whistleblower protections for FBI and Intelligence Community employees. For example, he successfully represented Dr. Fredric Whitehurst, the FBI lab forensics expert who suffered retaliation after reporting serious misconduct and poor lab practices at the FBI. As a result of the Whitehurst v. FBI case, President Clinton ordered the Attorney General to implement the FBI whistleblower statute, but after the Attorney General failed to issue regulations Mr. Colapinto sued the Department of Justice on behalf of other FBI employees to secure their whistleblower rights.
He has also established important precedent under the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act. For example, Mr. Colapinto served as co-counsel in Linda Tripp’s successful lawsuit citing Privacy Act violations by the Department of Defense regarding the unauthorized leak of information from Ms. Tripp’s security clearance file following her testimony to the Independent Counsel. In another case, the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of a different client granting the request for expedited processing under FOIA.
Mr. Colapinto is a co-founder of the National Whistleblower Center where he serves as General Counsel in a pro bono capacity, and a Trustee of the National Whistleblower Legal Defense & Education Fund.
What Clients are Saying
“Among the most experienced and skilled attorneys practicing in the specialization of whistleblower law”
“I couldn’t have navigated the shark invested waters whistleblower face without the passion, dedication, determination, and brilliance of my incredible attorneys.”
“…the three co-founders of the National Whistleblower Center, these are important names, Stephen Kohn, Michael, Kohn and David Colapinto, thank you so much for all that you do, they broke the mold with these visionaries and we are all better for it.” – National Whistleblower Day, 2018
Successful Legal Advocacy
Other Successful Cases
Awards and Recognition
In recognition of the growing importance of whistleblower litigation, The National Law Journal named the whistleblower advocacy law firm of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto as one of top fifty plaintiff’s law firms in the United States. The firm’s partners were officially named as among “America’s Elite Trial Lawyers.” In its September 29, 2014 article, “Elite Trial Lawyers: The 50 Leading Plaintiff’s Firms in America,” the National Law Journal named Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto as one of the firm’s “doing the most creative and most important work in the courtroom.”
- U.S. ex rel. Richardson v. Bristol Myers Squibb, Civil Action No. 06-cv-11821-NG (D. Mass.). Lead counsel for one of the employee relators in one of the largest pharmaceutical False Claims Act settlements, resulting in civil payments to government of over $500 million dollars, in 2007.
- Biofuels fraud case. Lead counsel for whistleblower who helped the United States prosecute major fraud for violations of securities laws, tax fraud and false claims. The whistleblower reported the defendants who were charged with carrying out a fraud by claiming tax and energy credits for fake biodiesel production and also for defrauding investors in the publicly traded company that falsely claimed it was producing biodiesel. It is the first known case filed under three different whistleblower reward laws: the IRS whistleblower statute, the SEC whistleblower award program and the False Claims Act qui tam law. The whistleblower testified in the criminal securities fraud case. KKC attorney David Colapinto was also called as a witness in the criminal case to testify as an expert on the False Claims Act qui tam and whistleblower award process. The United States has obtained judgments in excess of $100 million but the whistleblower’s claims for an award are still pending.
- U.S. ex rel. Westrick v. Second Chance Body Armor, et al., 685 F. Supp. 2d 129 (D.D.C. 2010). Co-counsel for employee relator in False Claims Act litigation against manufacturer and supplier of material for defective bullet proof vests. The United States intervened and the case settled for $33 million.
- U.S., Virginia and the District of Columbia, ex rel. Khwaja v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, et al., Civil Action No. 1:12-cv-00268-RJL (D.D.C.). Co-counsel for employee relator in False Claims Act case against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority alleging that defendant illegally awarded a $14 million contract. The relator’s FCA qui tamclaims were settled by United States and relator for $4.2 million.
- U.S. ex rel. Harris v. J.P. Morgan Chase, Civil Action No. 10-cv10068-GAO (D. Mass.). Lead counsel under the False Claims Act for wrongful foreclosures on residential mortgages, resulting in U.S. intervention and obtaining $6.19 million settlement of False Claims Act case.
- U.S. ex rel. Irwin v. Significant Education, Civil Action No. CV07-1771-PHX-DGC, 2009 WL 322875 (D. Ariz. Feb. 10, 2009), and 2011 WL 2200818 (D. Ariz. June 7, 2011). Co-counsel under the False Claims Act alleging illegal recruiting of students at private, for-profit university in violation of federal regulations. Obtained court orders denying defendant’s motion to dismiss, approving a $5.2 million settlement, a 27.5% relator’s share, and enforcing the settlement.
- U.S. ex rel. Barko v. Halliburton. Represented Plaintiff-Relator in False Claims Act case alleging Iraq War contracting fraud. Obtained order denying motions to dismiss and finding jurisdiction over subcontractor based in Jordan. Subcontractor settled claims but main contractor filed two writs of mandamus reversing district court orders to produce internal compliance documents that allegedly confirmed the fraud. Following discovery and mandamus rulings the court entered summary judgment in favor of contractor.
- U.S. ex rel. Samples v. General Dynamics Corp.,Civil Action No. 1:09-cv-01974-BAH (D.D.C.). Co-counsel for employee relator in False Claims Act case. The case settled in 2013, after the relator died. Successfully concluded the case and obtained a settlement on behalf of the U.S. taxpayers, which was split between the U.S. and the whistleblower’s widow.
- U.S. ex rel. Gibbs v. MTI, Civil Action No. 1:05-cv-00344-RWR (D.D.C.). False Claims Act qui tam whistleblower case brought by a former manager at a defense contracting firm alleging that the firm double-billed the government for labor and parts. The case settled shortly after the relator died in 2009. Successfully concluded the case and obtained close to a million dollars on behalf of the U.S. taxpayers, which was split between the U.S. and the whistleblower’s estate.
- Mitchell v. Arizona Public Service Co., Case No. 91-ERA-9 (U.S. Dept. of Labor). First ever decision applying “hostile work environment” doctrine in nuclear whistleblower case. Prevailed in merits hearing and obtained compensatory damage award.
- Gaballa v. Atlantic Group, Case No. 94-ERA-9 (U.S. Dept. of Labor). Successful precedent setting litigation before the Secretary of Labor establishing standards for blacklisting cases and obtaining award of compensatory damages.
- Saporito v. Arizona Public Service Co., 92-ERA-30 (DOL proceedings). Precedent on the right of whistleblowers to circumvent the “chain of command” in raising safety concerns.
- Levellie v. New York Air National Guard, Case No. 94-ERA-9 (U.S. Dept. of Labor). Precedent setting litigation establishing standards for “badmouthing” and blacklisting in corporate cases.
- Hashimoto v. Bank of Hawaii, 999 F.2d 408 (9th Cir. 1993). Counsel in successful appeal reversing summary judgment, recognizing cause of action for whistleblower retaliation under ERISA and remanding for trial.
- Garner v. M-K Ferguson Corp., 456 S.E.2d 907 (S.C. 1995). Co-counsel in first state Supreme Court victory establishing right to a jury trial under state employment law for a whistleblower at a nuclear weapons plant.
- Dr. Frederic Whitehurst v. FBI (administrative and judicial proceedings in 1993-98). Successfully represented first nationally recognized FBI whistleblower. Case resulted in President Clinton ordering the Attorney General to establish whistleblower protections for FBI employees for the first time. See Memorandum of President William Jefferson Clinton, Vol. 62 Federal Register No. 81, p. 23123 (April 14, 1997). In addition, the case achieved the accreditation of the FBI crime laboratory and the re-opening and/or review of thousands of criminal cases tainted by fraudulent laboratory procedures. Dr. Whitehurst obtained a final million-dollar plus settlement to resolve allegations of violations of the Privacy Act and other federal laws.
- Villanueva v. FBI, No. 98-CV-01704 (D.D.C.). Obtained right of FBI agents to pursue claims under the First Amendment based on illegal retaliation for First Amendment protected speech.
- Kobus v. FBI, OARM-WB No. 06-3. Co-Counsel in a successful case before the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management on behalf of an FBI employee who reported wrongdoing as part of his ordinary oversight role at the FBI and was retaliated against.
- Edmonds v. FBI, 417 F.3d 1319 (D.C. Cir. 2005). Successful representation of FBI translator in proceedings before the Office of Inspector General and under the Freedom of Information Act. Lead counsel in D.C. Circuit appeal holding that an order expediting FOIA request satisfies prevailing party standard for award of attorney’s fees.
- Linda Tripp v. Department of Defense, 104 F. Supp.2d 30 (D.D.C. 2000), 99-2554 (2001) 173 F.Supp. 2d 58 (D.D.C. 2001), 193 F.Supp.2d 229 (D.D.C. 2002), 01-157 (D.D.C 2002) 219 F.Supp.2d 85 (D.D.C. 2002), 99-2554 (D.D.C. 2002) 257 F.Supp.2d 37 (D.D.C. 2003), 194 F.R.D. 344 (D.D.C. 2000) and 200 F.R.D. 140 (D.D.C. 2001). Precedent setting litigation on behalf of nationally recognized whistleblower. Case resulted in one of the largest Privacy Act settlements ever awarded by the U.S. government.
- NACDL, et al. v. Department of Justice, 182 F.3d 981 (D.C. Cir. 1999). Successful Freedom of Information litigation resulting in the release of the DOJ Inspector General report exposing high-level misconduct within the FBI crime lab, and awarding interim attorneys fees under FOIA.
- Nat’l Whistleblower Ctr. v. HHS, 904 F. Supp. 2d 59 (D.D.C. 2012). Preliminary injunction forcing FDA to immediately release records related to FDA’s email monitoring of employee-whistleblowers; precedent holding that agencies waive right to withhold privileged documents that contain strong evidence of government misconduct.
Murphy v. IRS, 460 F.3d 79 (D.C. Cir. 2006). First successful constitutional challenge under the 16th Amendment to the taxation of compensatory damages. Decision vacated and reversed on other constitutional grounds, 493 F.3d 170 (D.C. Cir. 2007), rehearing, en banc, denied by Murphy v. IRS, 2007 U.S. App. 05-5139 (D.C. Cir., 2007), certiorari denied by Murphy v. IRS, 2008 U.S. 05-5139 (U.S., Apr. 21, 2008).
- Vermont Agency of Natural Resources v. U.S. ex rel. Stevens, 529 U.S. 765 (2000). Represented public interest group in Amicus Curiae brief filed in case upholding the constitutionality of key provisions of the False Claims Act.
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Waffle House, 534 U.S. 279, 122 S.Ct. 724 (2001). Represented public interest group as Amicus Curiae in case concerning impact of an arbitration agreement on EEOC’s authority to seek relief for victims of discrimination.
- Lawson v. FMR LLC (Fidelity Investments). Represented amicus curiae in victorious Supreme Court case expanding scope for employees under the Sarbanes Oxley Act. Read the amicus curiae brief and the court’s ruling.
- Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States, ex rel. Hunt. Represented amicus curiae in case filed to the Supreme Court on behalf of a whistleblower, Justices unanimously ruled in favor of whistleblowers filing under the False Claims Act.
- Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers. The KKC lawyers vigorously fought for the protection of internal whistleblowers but the Supreme Court rejected these arguments. However, the ruling of the Supreme Court sent a clear message that SEC whistleblowers filing under the Dodd Frank Act should report directly to the SEC to avoid retaliation. Read the amicus curiae brief and the court’s ruling.
- Universal Health Services v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar. Represented amicus curiae in major precedent in unanimous Supreme Court ruling upholding False Claims Act qui tam whistleblowers’ right to pursue claims even if the violations were not explicitly set forth in contract. Read the amicus curiae brief and the court’s ruling.
- Haddle v. Garrison, 525 U.S. 121 (1998). Lead attorney for public interest Amicus Curiae in case establishing employee-witness protection under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2).
- Beck v. Prupis, 529 U.S. 494 (2000)
- Doe v. Chao, 540 U.S. 614 (2004)
- Lane v. Franks, 134 S. Ct. 2369 (2014)
- Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Carter, 135 S. Ct. 1970 (2015)
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- District of Columbia
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
- U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
- J.D. Antioch School of Law (1987)
- B.S. Boston University (1984)
- America’s Elite Employment Trial Lawyers Finalist National Law Journal 2015
- White Collar Crime Trailblazer, National Law Journal 2015
- “Elite Trial Lawyers” Designation, National Law Journal 2014
- 100 Most Influential in Business Ethics, Ethisphere Magazine 2014
- America’s Most Honored Professionals, American Registry
- A-V Preeminent, Martindale-Hubbell®
- Top Attorneys, American Registry
- Top Attorneys, Washington DC Super Lawyers
- Super Lawyer® Designation
- National Law Journal, “Hot List” of Plaintiff’s Law Firms
- Friend of the IEEE Award
- Hobby v. Georgia Power Company (judge’s order granting attorney fee application)( “among the most experienced and skilled attorneys practicing in the specialty of whistleblower litigation.”) (2001).
- The Trump-Ukraine whistleblower has a statutory right to confidentiality: it’s the law – The Hill
- Can the whistleblower’s reputation survive President Trump’s impeachment defense? – The Hill
- What the Linda Tripp case can teach us about whistleblowers and impeachment – The Hill
- On the Side of Whistleblowers – Boston University
- Whistleblower Law: A Guide to Legal Protections for Corporate Employees (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004) (co-authored with Michael Kohn and Stephen M, Kohn). The Guide was highly praised by the two principle co-sponsors of the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate whistleblower law.
- Environmental Whistleblowers and the Eleventh Amendment: Employee Protection or State Immunity, 15 Tulane Environmental Law Journal 43 (Winter, 2001) (co-author).
- Numerous national and international media and public speaking appearances, including formal Congressional testimony and other presentations.
BBC, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, MSNBC, FOX, RT, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Constitution, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time Magazine, National Law Journal, and Vanity Fair.
- Capital Gains, Bloomberg-TV (Aug. 11, 2013) (featuring KKC as leading whistleblower firm)
- David Colapinto on Whistleblower Laws and the Intelligence Community – C-Span
- Sweeping Stimulus Law Golden Opportunity for Scam Artists – Bloomberg Law
- ‘We will hunt you down’: Man threatened attorney of Trump whistleblower, prosecutors say – The Washington Post
- Rep. Dan Bishop Offers Name Of Ukraine Whistleblower On Social Media – WFAE
- The whistleblower’s lawyer says attacking him is illegal as Trump’s attacks continue – Vox
- 3 experts explain why whistleblowers in the intelligence community are especially vulnerable – Vox
- Why We Should Try To Keep The Whistleblowers Anonymous – MTV News
- Unpatriotic? Whistleblowers are ‘as American as apple pie’ – LA Times
- Trump attacks on whistleblower pose major test for protection laws – Newsday
- Mounting evidence buttresses claims in whistleblower complaint – The Washington Post
- USA: “Proteggete il whistleblower” – Radiotelevisione svizzera (Italy)
- Whistleblower protection, explained – PBS News Hour
- Trump quiere saber quién hizo la denuncia en su contra por la trama ucraniana. La ley se lo impide – Telemundo
- As Trump lashes out at whistleblower, analysts fear law offers meager protection – The Washington Post
- Fact check: Were whistleblower rules changed before Ukraine complaint? – NBC News
- WHY WHISTLEBLOWERS ARE AS AMERICAN AS THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE – MTV News
- What’s The Deal With Whistleblowing? – NPR 1A
- “Who is responsible for enforcing the US whistleblower law? The President” – PRI
- “What the New York Times Outing a Whistleblower Tells Us About Trump’s Smear Campaign” – Vice News
- “The whistleblowing process, explained” – CNN
- “Donald Trump’s smears designed to silence would-be whistleblowers, experts warn” – The Guardian
- “‘Whistleblowing Is Really In Our DNA’: A History Of Reporting Wrongdoing” – NPR
- “The Problem With the Whistle-Blower System” – The Atlantic
- “Trump’s rhetoric will have a chilling effect on whistleblowing, legal experts say” – The Washington Post
- “US House Weighs Lawsuit Forcing Disclosure of Mystery Whistleblower Complaint” – The National Law Journal
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