Federal Whistleblowers & False Claims Act Lawyers

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Where We Practice

Our lawyers at Johnson/Citronberg have obtained an impressive list of large False Claims Act settlements. We have taken on defense contractors and large pharmaceutical companies. And we pioneered claims against importers who evaded anti-dumping and countervailing duties. Through all of this, we have always made sure that our clients are protected from retaliation in the workplace and that their actions are protected under federal law.

CONTACT JOHNSON/CITRONBERG (703) 684-8000

We understand that coming forward as a whistleblower is a serious decision that will impact both you and your family. Our whistleblower lawyers will investigate your claim and provide an honest assessment about the odds of success as well as any potential issues that you may face. Our lawyers are well versed in federal criminal and whistleblower law, and we will provide guidance on how to navigate this complex area of law in order to maximize your award.

$108 MILLION SETTLEMENT

False Claims Act
Alleged Medicare Fraud

U.S. ex rel. M.S. v. Avanir

READ THE PRESS RELEASE

$25 MILLION SETTLEMENT

False Claims Act
Alleged Customs Fraud

U.S. ex rel. K.S. v. Z Gallerie

READ THE PRESS RELEASE HERE

$25 MILLION SETTLEMENT

IRS Whistleblower
Alleged Tax Fraud

U.S. v. E.C.

What is the False Claims Act?

The federal statute can be found at 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3729.

The False Claims Act is a federal law which allows a private individual to file a federal lawsuit on behalf of the United States when the individual is aware of a company committing fraud against the United States. The lawsuit is filed under seal in U.S. District Court. The government (usually the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the district where the suit is filed) will then investigate the case and determine if it wants to “intervene” in (or takeover the case). The most common types of False Claims Act cases are discussed below.

  • Health Care Fraud. Health care fraud is by far the most common type of False Claims Act case. Anytime a healthcare provider bills a government funded program, such as Medicare, Medicaid, or Tricare, there is the potential for fraud. While the most common form involves a provider’s improper billing practices, these cases can also involve kickbacks and off-label marketing.
  • Defense Contractor Fraud. The False Claims Act was created in response to contractors taking advantage of the federal government during the Civil War. Since then, the government has routinely settled large False Claims Act cases against defense contractors for false billing or providing inferior procust. In 2009 for example, Northrop Grumman settled a case for $325 million for allegedly selling defective satellite parts to the government.
  • Customs / Importer Fraud. One area that has garnered recent attention is customs fraud. On many imports into the United States, the importer is required to pay anti-dumping and countervailing duties on the goods. When the importer evades these duties by misrepresenting what the goods are or where they came from, the importer has submitted a false claim and be held liable under the False Claims Act. Our lawyers won the largest False Claims Act award in the Southern District of Georgia after a furniture company imported goods through Savannah without paying the requisite duties.
Who can be a whistleblower?
The False Claims Act has a qui tam provision, which allows any private individual with knowledge of fraud against the United States to file suit. The whistleblower is referred to as the “relator” in qui tam actions.
How much money can I be awarded?
A whistleblower can expect to earn anywhere between 15% and 30%, depending on whether the government intervenes in the case.The False Claims Act allows a whistleblower to recover up to 30% of the amount of funds recovered by the government. In cases where the government intervenes, however, the whistleblower can recover between 15% and 25% of the amount recovered.

In large cases, a single percentage point can make a significant difference. Oftentimes, the government will make an initial offer of around 18%. Your lawyer will need to negotiate with the government as why you should receive a larger percentage. You can increase your odds of getting a higher percentage by fully cooperating with the government early on in the case.

How long do whistleblower cases take?
The average length of a complex False Claims Act case is 3 to 5 years.False Claims Act cases can take a long time. On average, FCA cases take 3-5 years to resolve, and there are some cases that have taken more than 10 years. The quickest one should expect to resolve a complex FCA case is two years. A large chunk of this time is normally dedicated to the government investigating the claims and compiling evidence.

Do I want the government to intervene?
Yes, in most cases, you want the government to intervene even though this will likely lower the percentage of your award. The reason for this is that the government’s intervention almost always increases the value of the case.The government’s investigation will usually lead to evidence that the whistleblower would never be able to get. This is because the government can subpoena documents and conduct depositions of people with intimate knowledge of the fraud. This means that the government can find additional instances of fraud, which can greatly increase the amount of money awarded to the whistleblower.

False Claims Act cases can also be fragile in court litigation. The law is often stacked against the whistleblower when it comes to motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment. When the government intervenes, your whistleblower claims are much more likely to survive in court. The offending company knows this and is more likely to settle and to settle for a higher amount than if the government did not intervene.

How do I get the government to intervene?
In 2022, nearly 1,000 False Claims Act lawsuits were filed. Many of these cases will ultimately be declined by the government. The government declines to intervene in cases when it believes that the fraud claims are unviable, that the government’s resources are better spent elsewhere, or that the case should be investigated as a criminal matter.It is the job the of the whistleblower’s lawyer to convince the government to intervene in the False Claims Act case. There are four primary factors that your lawyer will examine when determining whether the government will likely intervene in your case:

  1. Amount of fraud. The government will normally not get involved in a case where the fraud amount is less than $1 – $2 million. While there are exceptions (e.g., PPP loan fraud), the government will either ignore low-dollar fraud cases, try to collect through other means, or simply criminally prosecute the individuals involved.
  2. Proof of the fraud. The government doesn’t just take someone at their word. The government will want to see documents which corroborate your story and definitively show the fraud. This may be in the form of invoices, emails, text messages, or company memorandums. The more concrete proof you have, the greater your chances are that the government will intervene.
  3. The level of harm. Fraud doesn’t just impact the U.S. treasury. Fraud in healthcare can hurt patients (e.g., unnecessary procedures). Fraud in customs cases can hurt American manufacturers. And fraud committed by defense contractors can hurt our troops. By spelling out the specific harm, the government is more likely to intervene.
  4. Ability to pay. The government will want to know a company’s ability to pay back the money it unlawfully took. For many small companies, this can be difficult or impossible, and the government is more likely to investigate the case a criminal matter.
Am I protected from retaliation by my employer?
Yes, the False Claims Act has a retaliation provision which prohibits your employer from retaliating against you for filing a lawsuit under the False Claims Act. Retaliation can take on many forms, including firing, demoting, reassigning, falsifying performance reviews, and lowering or changing compensation. If your employer retaliates against you, you can file an additional claim of retaliation under the False Claims Act.
Take the first step. Contact a whistleblower lawyer.
The first step in the journey of being a whistleblower is to hire an experienced lawyer who can protect your rights and maximize a potential whistleblower award. Our whistleblower lawyers have won some of the largest whistleblower awards while protecting our clients’ employment and reputations. You can call us at (703) 684-8000 or email us below for a confidential and free case evaluation. With offices in Alexandria, Virginia and Atlanta, Georgia, we represent whistleblowers across the nation.

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