A False Claims Act Attorney Can Help
The Federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729 (FCA), allows private citizens (known as "relators" or "qui tam plaintiffs") to file a lawsuit against individuals and businesses that defraud the federal government.
If you file your case even one day after another whistleblower who files the same case, you can lose your right to receive a reward.
The FCA was originally created to fight government fraud in the defense industry during the Civil War. It was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. That is why you will sometimes hear it referred to as Lincoln's Law.
Today it has become the primary law used by private citizens to file whistleblower lawsuits on behalf of the United States when they have direct knowledge of government fraud.
The rewards for being an FCA whistleblower can be great.
Successful whistleblowers receive 15-30% of the amount the government recovers. FCA whistleblowers have received more than $2.2 billion in whistleblower rewards for exposing government fraud.
There are numerous types of False Claims Act cases. The most common types involve:
- Health care fraud
- Medicare and Medicaid fraud
- Department of Defense fraud
- Construction contract fraud
- Government loan fraud
The timing of your whistleblower case is critical.
Whistleblowers must follow the first-to-file rule. Under this rule, only the first person to file a case under the False Claims Act is entitled to a whistleblower reward. If you file your case even one day after another whistleblower who files the same case, you can lose your right to receive a reward.
So, you must act quickly.
If you have discovered evidence of government fraud, you should always speak with an experienced False Claims Act attorney before blowing the whistle. Our False Claims Act attorneys provide assistance to whistleblowers across the United States.
Do I Have a Good False Claims Act Whistleblower Case?
The first thing our False Claims Act lawyers do is determine if you have a good case.
Building a winning whistleblower case requires detailed legal analysis and a thorough investigation.
From the start, we carefully analyze your whistleblower case from all legal angles. We conduct a comprehensive investigation of all facts that are used to support your official whistleblower complaint. We then actively work with the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney's Office to help you maximize your whistleblower reward.
Good False Claim Act whistleblower cases have strong evidence of fraudulent activity and proof of significant financial damage to the government.
The False Claims Act covers a wide range of fraudulent activities. Here are four you should know about:
- Mischarge and Overcharge Claims occur when a business or person knowingly presents a false or fraudulent claim to obtain payment from the federal government. An example of a mischarge claim is a doctor who submits a bill to Medicare for medical services that have not been provided to a patient.
- False Certification Claims occur when a business or person knowingly makes or uses a false record or statement to obtain payment from the federal government. An example of a false certification claim is a government contractor that submits records to the government that falsely indicate compliance with federal regulatory requirements.
- Reverse False Claims occur when a business or person knowingly and improperly conceals or retains an overpayment from the federal government. An example of a reverse false claim is a hospital that obtains interim Medicare payments throughout the year that result in an overpayment, and then submits a false cost report at the end of the year to avoid making a refund.
- Conspiracy Claims occur when more than one business or person acts together to violate the False Claims Act. An example of a conspiracy claim is a general contractor that knows its subcontractor is violating the terms of a federal contract, but falsely submits a compliance certification to the federal government to obtain payment of an invoice. In this example, both the general and subcontractor may have liability for conspiracy under the False Claims Act.
The reach of the False Claims Act is broad. It can cover any false or fraudulent claim for payment made, either directly or indirectly, to the Federal government.
The first step to knowing if you have a good False Claims Act case is to speak confidentially with an experienced False Claims Act law firm.
Choosing the Right False Claims Act Lawyer Can Make All the Difference
False Claims Act cases are complex. As a result, you should always seek legal advice from an experienced False Claims Act attorney before filing a whistleblower complaint.
Although False Claim Act cases have many technical rules you must follow, there are three important rules every whistleblower should know about.
First, all FCA whistleblower complaints must be confidentially filed under seal.
This means your case must be filed on a secret docket in the correct federal district court. You must then confidentially serve the US Attorney General and the US Attorney in the federal district where your complaint has been filed.
While your case is under seal, you cannot disclose any information about the complaint to anyone except the federal government. If you violate the seal, your complaint can be dismissed.
Second, all FCA whistleblower complaints must be filed by a lawyer.
The reason for this rule is that when you file an FCA whistleblower lawsuit, you are actually representing the United States. The United States cannot be represented by a non-lawyer. If you file your whistleblower complaint without a False Claims Act lawyer, your complaint can be dismissed.
Third, all FCA whistleblowers must confidentially serve the Justice Department with a disclosure statement when they file an FCA whistleblower complaint.
A disclosure statement is a specialized False Claims Act document. It contains all of the evidence in your possession. Unlike your whistleblower complaint, it is not filed in federal court.
The purpose of the disclosure statement is to provide the federal government with enough information to decide if it should join your whistleblower lawsuit. If you do not serve the Justice Department with a properly drafted disclosure statement, your complaint can be dismissed.
Having a team of experienced False Claims Act attorneys on your side from start to finish is the best way to ensure that you follow the False Claim Act's whistleblower rules and receive whistleblower protection.