The Federal False Claims Act prohibits contractors from defrauding the government. If you have inside knowledge of fraudulent conduct, you can initiate litigation against the party responsible and share in the government’s recovery.
What is Qui Tam?
Since the 1986 amendments to the False Claims Act, the government has recovered over 24 billion dollars, and whistleblowers initiating those claims have received significant monetary rewards. Whistleblower claims, also known as qui tam actions, require particular knowledge and the willingness to work tirelessly on behalf of the client. These cases can take years to complete. Few attorneys are willing to take on the risk and put in the time necessary to successfully pursue these lawsuits.
The Decision to be a Whistleblower
Whistleblowers come from all walks of life and are subject to extraordinary stress. C.F.O.’s, employees of military contractors, hospital administrators, fiscal analysts, physicians and nurses all have been successful whistleblowers. The FCA and other whistleblower statutes provide powerful remedies for retaliation, termination and black-balling; however, the decision to become a whistleblower is always a tough one. At Lanzone Morgan LLP, we focus a large portion of our practice on helping individuals in California bring whistleblower claims.
Protecting the Government Against Fraud
Many people in the health care field, as well as those who work for federal contractors, are unaware that federal law provides a reward for helping the government fight fraud.
Whistleblowers — known formally as relators — are rewarded with 15 percent to 25 percent of the amount recovered by the government, if the government intervenes in the case, and up to 30 percent of the amount recovered if the government does not intervene. In addition, the law protects employees who risk losing their jobs because of whistleblowing. It provides remedies for employees whose investigation and reporting of fraudulent claims results in the termination of their employment.
Remedies for Retaliation for Blowing the Whistle
The False Claims Act provides a very effective remedy for employees who have been terminated or have suffered other retaliation as a consequence of investigating or reporting fraud to the government. You should know however, that, similarly to the anti-retaliatory provisions of the Civil Rights Act, there is little that you can do to prevent being fired, although you can sue for damages if it happens. The False Claims Act permits an employee to sue the employer individually for retaliation and has potential remedies that include “all relief necessary to make the employee whole” including, but not limited to, reinstatement to previous job or position, or, if that is not practical, ‘front pay’ damages for termination, double back pay, compensation for “special damages” including litigation expenses and reasonable attorneys fees and which have been held by some courts to include compensation for emotional distress.
Obviously, in some cases, the ‘bounty’ percentage of what the government recovers can result if far greater recovery than the individual retaliation damages, but the damages for retaliation can indeed be significant. Recent amendments to the False Claims Act have expanded coverage of wrongful termination and retaliation claims to include independent contractors who have suffered retaliation for reporting and pursuing false claims investigations.
Lanzone Morgan, LLP is here to help you when you take the step to become a whistleblower. Give us a call today about your case at 888-887-9777 or visit our contact Us page.