Whistleblower / Qui Tam Representation
The federal False Claims Act allows a person, called a qui tam relator, to file a sealed lawsuit in federal court against another person for defrauding the federal government. Such cases often arise in the context of companies that bill the federal government on a routine basis, such as defense contractors or medical professionals that bill Medicare. While the lawsuit is pending, the Attorney General may conduct its own closed investigation and could ultimately intervene in the case. Such intervention generally bolsters the likelihood that the lawsuit will be successful. If the government does join the case, the lawsuit is unsealed. Often these cases are complicated and take years, so having federal investigators involved is nearly always desired. If there’s a recovery, the relator benefits by sharing in a percentage of the recovery with federal government. Importantly, a relator must be the “first to file” to be eligible to recover, making timing critical. Thus, time is of the essence: a case must be filed within six years of the alleged fraud.
Another area involving whistleblower representation is in the securities industry. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 contains strong anti-retaliation provisions that protect whistleblowers who report financial fraud, while the Dodd Frank Act of 2010, in addition to providing enhanced protections for whistleblowers, creates a new private right of action for employees who have suffered retaliation for reporting information to the SEC.