What is a Whistleblower?
Whistleblowers are critical to stopping illegal employer activities that may cause harm to citizens and defraud the government and other entities. Also, under certain circumstances, whistleblowers may maintain their anonymity during most of the whistleblower process.
The False Claims Act
The False Claims Act enables private persons—whistleblowers—to file qui tam lawsuits that provide the government with information concerning an alleged wrongdoing. Under the statute, should it be found that a person or entity has knowingly submitted or caused others to submit false or fraudulent claims to the United States, the government may recover triple the amount (treble) of damages, as well as additional monies for every statute violation.
Should the government successfully resolve or litigate its claims, the whistleblower who initiated the action may receive a share of the amount recovered.
Because of the professional and personal risks whistleblowers must take to expose and stop fraud against the government, the Act provides whistleblowers with job protection and financial compensation.
Passed in 1863 during the Civil War, the Act includes various amendments that were added in 1986 that increased damage and penalty amounts. These amendments are meant to drive whistleblowers to come forward.
Under the False Claims Act, any private citizen may sue an individual who, or an entity that, is defrauding the government. The citizen, or whistleblower, assists in recovering funds on the government’s behalf.
Whistleblower awards range between 15-30 percent of damage and penalty amounts; whistleblowers may receive millions of dollars in awards.
Qui Tam Lawsuits
Qui tam lawsuits are an effective type of civil lawsuit that whistleblowers bring under the False Claims Act. This type of lawsuit helps detect and cease fraud and assists the government in stopping a number of fraudulent actions, including Medicare and Medicaid Fraud and adverse and financial actions against the government.
Qui tam lawsuits are filed under seal, which means that the lawsuit is kept secret from everyone except the government. This ensures that the Justice Department (DOJ) has time to investigate the allegations, while the individual or entity accused of fraud is not advised about the qui tam lawsuit.
The lawsuit and all supporting documents are meant to provide the government with details about the fraud. In fact, the Act provides that the case is sealed for 60 days. Courts typically and routinely extend this time frame to allow the government sufficient time to investigate the allegations and to make a decision about joining because these types of lawsuits may take years to complete.
When an individual has evidence of fraud that was allegedly perpetrated against the government and that individual chooses to enter into a whistleblower lawsuit, the whistleblower will need to consult with a lawyer. Whistleblowers have long been critical in detecting and stopping fraud and have been crucial in helping the government to stop a variety of fraudulent actions.
Whistleblowers have helped the government recover billions of dollars that were stolen from the United States Treasury and from taxpayers and which may have led to endangerment of patients, United States soldiers, and others.
Parker Waichman has long been involved in whistleblower cases, has long supported whistleblower efforts to report illegal activities, and firmly believes that whistleblowers play a significant role in whistleblower lawsuits.
If You Are In Possession of Evidence of Fraud
When someone is in possession of evidence of fraud that was allegedly perpetrated against the government and that person chooses to enter into a whistleblower lawsuit, that individual should consult with a lawyer for representation.
Parker Waichman has long and successfully been involved in whistleblower cases and believes that, when companies exert abuses of power or take part in illegal or unethical financial activities, they are defrauding the government, as well as unsuspecting tax payers.
The government will investigate the whistleblower’s allegations, generally in collaboration with the whistleblower’s attorney. The government will decide if it will join in the case. Although such intervention takes place in a small percentage of qui tam lawsuits, whistleblowers do have the option under the False Claims Act to pursue qui tam cases individually.
While whistleblowers may maintain their anonymity during much of the whistleblower process, the government will ask the court to partially lift the seal on the lawsuit to discuss the allegations and any potential settlement. Many successful qui tam cases are resolved through settlement negotiations rather than having to be resolved in court.
Whistleblower rewards are dependent on a variety of factors, including the quality of the case presented to the Justice Department and the work of the whistleblower’s attorney to help the case succeed. If the government intervenes in the case and recovers funds through a settlement or a trial, the whistleblower—sometimes known as the relator—is entitled to 15 percent to 25 percent of the recovery amount.
If the government does not intervene and the case is pursued by the whistleblower team (the whistleblower and his or her attorneys), the whistleblower reward is typically between 25 and 30 percent of the recovery amount.
Parker Waichman LLP provides free legal consultations to individuals who may want to file a whistleblower lawsuit. If you or someone you know has knowledge of fraud and want more information about your legal rights, contact our firm today.
Types of Whistleblower Cases
There are various types of whistleblower cases in which the government is defrauded; some are more common than others. The five most common types whistleblower cases include healthcare fraud (Medicare and Medicaid), government contractor fraud, defense contractor fraud, violations of General Services Administration (GSA) Contracts, and environmental fraud.
Whistleblowers have been very valuable in detecting fraud and subsequently saving the government and taxpayers’ money. If you or someone you know wants to file a whistleblower lawsuit through the False Claims Act or simply wants more information, contact Parker Waichman LLP today.
Whistleblower Lawsuit Advice
Parker Waichman LLP supports efforts to protect whistleblowers and offers free case evaluations to those individuals who believe their companies, other entities, or individuals may be involved in wrongdoing. If you believe that a government entity, insurer, or other entity is committing fraudulent activities and would like to maintain your anonymity, contact Parker Waichman LLP by calling us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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