Who are Whistleblowers? Employees? Ordinary Citizens?
The False Claims Act (FCA), also known as the Whistleblower Act, Qui Tam Statute or Lincoln Law, gives any citizen the power to sue companies or individuals over financial fraud committed against the government. Ordinary citizens can help make the case and help taxpayers recoup funds related to fraudulent payment schemes involving federal health care programs (including Medicare), government procurement contracts, grants for small businesses, federally insured mortgages and other federal programs.
Most of these lawsuits are brought by current or former employees of companies committing fraud. Whistleblowers, knows as “relators” under the FCA, are generally entitled to between 15 and 30 percent of any damages collected under the law.
Whistleblowers need to show how the fraud occurred. FCA qui tam cases often involve complex fraud that would not be apparent to an untrained person, making whistleblower participation important to a successful qui tam lawsuit.
An experienced qui tam lawyer can help guide you through the process.
Questions about Possible Fraud Against the Government?
If you suspect your employer is defrauding the federal government, contact the Whistleblower Lawyers Louthian Law Firm today toll free at (803) 454-1200 or online for a free evaluation of your case. We can confidentially review the facts in your case, advise you about whether or not your claim has merit and inform you about how the False Claims Act protects whistleblowers from retribution in the workplace — all for no charge. If we feel your case has merit we will represent you on a contingency (percentage) basis which means you won’t owe any money in attorneys’ fees unless the case results in a monetary award.
Who Can Bring a Whistleblower Protection Qui Tam Case?
Qui tam cases can be brought by anyone with knowledge of fraud against the government. Typically, whistleblowers are employees or former employees. Cases can also be brought by:
- Competitors who become aware of fraud
- State and local governments
- Customers or patients
- Federal or other government employees. Government employees can bring qui tam lawsuits, but the Justice Department often opposes suits brought by this type of whistleblower.
- Others, including public interest groups and private organizations.
Other things to remember when considering a qui tam case include:
- The fraud can’t be tax fraud.
- The claim needs to be filed within six years of the fraudulent activity.
- Evidence of the fraud can’t come from a public source such as the media, court records, hearings or a Freedom of Information Act request.
- The fraud must involve federal money. It can’t involve a state defrauding the federal government. It can be about a municipality defrauding the federal government.
- The company accused of making false claims to the government must have done so knowingly.
- Mismanagement by the government or a contractor is not subject to the False Claims Act. The company must make false claims to the government.
In a qui tam case, the whistleblower, called a “relator,” files a complaint with the U.S. District Court and also files a written disclosure of all the material evidence he or she possesses. After this, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has 60 days to decide if it will join the lawsuit. If the DOJ decides to join the lawsuit, it takes primary responsibility for pursuing the case. A qualified qui tam lawyer can help you make sure your documentation is in order and assist you in getting the case ready for the DOJ.
How Do I File a Claim under the False Claims Act?
An experienced whistleblower attorney like the ones at the Louthian Law Firm can assess your case and help you file the necessary disclosure statement with the government if you have a valid case. A qualified attorney can help you structure your claims in such a way that the government is more likely to be persuaded to intervene in your case, possibly increasing the likelihood that you will recover reward money. However, even if the government doesn’t decide to intervene, it might still be advisable to pursue your case without government involvement.