Washington, D.C. Whistle-Blower Attorney
What is a False Claims Act case?
The Federal False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. Sections 3729 through 3733) empowers whistle-blowers to sue anyone committing fraud against the government. Successful whistle-blowers can also earn a share of the money the government recovers from these suits.
Since the amendments that re-established the federal law in 1986, many states have decided to enact similar laws. As a result, whistle-blowers have filed thousands of cases and have helped federal and state governments obtain more than $40 billion dollars in damages, civil fines, and criminal penalties.
Whistle-blowers have also won substantial payments. The federal government paid whistle-blowers $439 million in rewards for filing False Claims Act cases in 2012 alone. Please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.
What types of violations are covered under the False Claims Act?
Commonly reported false claims include companies overcharging the government, contractors charging twice for the same product or service, charging for non-existent products or services, creating false reports or certifications of product quality, failing to ensure products meet pre-stated requirements.
As a result of government funding of medical care, Medicare and Medicaid fraud is a major area of litigation under the both federal and state False Claims Acts.
Generally, filing a false claims suit requires an individual to have inside knowledge of fraudulent behavior, so successful whistle-blowers are usually employees of the companies engaged in fraud. If found guilty under the False Claims Act a defendant will be liable to pay the federal government three times the amount of damages created by the fraud and civil penalties of $5,500 to $11,000 per violation.
In some cases, the defendant may also be subject to criminal fines.
As a whistle-blower, what can I expect?
Under the federal False Claims Act, the whistle-blower is entitled to compensation of from fifteen to thirty percent (15-30%) of the amount the government recovers in damages and civil fines.
At first, however, the case is filed in court “under seal” to allow the government to investigate the allegations confidentially. During the government’s investigation, the case is kept sealed from the public and the identity of the whistle-blower is generally protected. The whistle-blower also has the burden of not revealing any details about the case to the public.
The facts the whistle-blower knows can only be shared with his or her own lawyer and, through such a lawyer, with the government.
The law includes additional provisions to benefit the whistle-blower. Under section 3730(h) of the federal False Claims Act, employees who face harassment or are fired as a result of complaining about the fraudulent practices are entitled to relief. That relief includes reinstatement, double back-pay, and compensation for any costs and damages. Of course, the actual amount of money the whistle-blower may obtain as a result of filing a claim under this section of the act is dependent on many factors and is the subject of litigation or settlement.
What should I do if I believe someone is defrauding the government?
If you believe that a person or corporation that you are associated with is defrauding the government, contacting an attorney to discuss your legal options should be your next move.
A lawyer can prepare your case and most importantly can fully advise you of your rights under the law. A lawyer will help you make an informed decision as to how to proceed and keep your information confidential.
False Claims Act cases are typically handled on a contingent-free basis, which means that there is very little cost up front to the client when discussing a case or working with an attorney. Instead, the attorney is usually compensated through a share of the successful recovery.
The statute of limitations is generally six years to sue for fraud against the government and usually three years for retaliation against the whistle-blower. However, to prevent multiple recoveries, the first person who files a case regarding a particular fraudulent scheme is usually the only one who is allowed to obtain a recovery. Therefore, it makes sense to contact an attorney and find out if your case is viable sooner rather than later.
David Benowitz and his team are ready to help you. Call at (202) 529-9374 with further questions about qui tam and whistle-blower laws or to schedule a free, confidential consultation.