False Claims Act
The False Claims Act allows people with knowledge of fraud against the government to file a qui tam lawsuit on the government’s behalf seeking recovery of lost funds due to the fraud being reported. This law holds vendors who make a false claim against the government for payment accountable for their fraudulent actions.
If you have knowledge of fraud against the government, you can become a whistleblower. The False Claims Act offers whistleblowers a strong incentive to come forward with their knowledge of fraud against the government. As a whistleblower, you can receive 15-30% of the recovered funds as a reward for your assistance with the qui tam case.
Filing a Qui Tam Lawsuit
The False Claims Act spells out the procedure for filing a qui tam claim. When the whistleblower files the lawsuit, it will remain “under seal” for a minimum of 60 days. This means that the lawsuit will not be made public, allowing the government time to investigate the charges without alerting the defendant to the existence of a lawsuit. This seal is often extended beyond 60 days to give the government more time to investigate.
Once the investigation is complete, the government will decide whether to join, or intervene, in the case. If the government intervenes, it will act as lead counsel and work in conjunction with the whistleblower’s attorney throughout the duration of the claim. At this time, the seal will be lifted and the lawsuit will be made public. If the government chooses not to intervene, the whistleblower may still move forward with the case alone.
It is important to act quickly if you possess knowledge of a False Claims Act violation. Only the first person to file a claim will be entitled to collect a whistleblower reward.
Due to the considerable risk shouldered by whistleblowers, the False Claims Act provides for several important whistleblower protections. While the claim is being investigated by the government, the whistleblower’s identity will be kept confidential. This confidentiality will remain even if the defendant becomes aware of the investigation into its actions. Once the investigation has been completed and the lawsuit becomes public, the whistleblower’s identity will be revealed.
The False Claims Act also protects whistleblowers from retaliation by the defendant. This protection is crucial since many whistleblowers are still working for the company being prosecuted at the time the claim is filed. The defendant cannot fire, demote, harass, or discriminate against an employee who has come forward as a whistleblower. Under the False Claims Act, the whistleblower is entitled to file a civil lawsuit against the defendant for any damages suffered from this retaliation.
The qui tam lawyers at Colling, Gilbert, Wright & Carter have the skills and experience to help you through the complex process of pursuing a qui tam claim. We will fight to ensure your rights are protected so that you will have the greatest likelihood of maximizing your whistleblower reward.