Whistleblower (Qui Tam) Claims
So called “qui tam” cases can be described as a “fraud on the government” claim. And when the government is defrauded, so are the taxpayers.
Do you suspect your employer is cheating on corporate taxes, abusing government contracts, committing financial fraud against the government, or defrauding the government in pursuit of financial gain?
If so, you may have a whistleblower (qui tam) claim and could potentially recover from 15% to 30% of any financial recovery owed the government. While a small portion of qui tam cases settle for tens of millions of dollars, most successful cases settle for $2 million or less, according to the Taxpayers Against Fraud (TAF) website, and the average whistleblower award in a $2 million case is $320,000 if there is only one whistleblower.
It is important to act quickly when filing a whistleblower or qui tam case. According to the federal False Claims Act only the first person to file a whistleblower lawsuit can proceed with the legal action and collect monetary damages.
How do I report a potential fraud claim?
Sometimes people who suspect fraud are unsure where to begin and they just want to talk to someone confidentially about what they have observed.
Take the first step by contacting us or calling 1-866-900-7078 to discuss your situation. Your case evaluation is confidential and it is free. We will evaluate your circumstances and let you know if we believe you have a valid claim to move forward.
What Is a Whistleblower Lawsuit?
Whistleblower lawsuits are claims that try to protect the U.S. government from those who attempt to defraud it. The person who brings information forward is known as the “relator” in a qui tam case. You may recall that in the 1980s, during the defense contracting boom, some contractors charged hundreds of dollars for a plane or ship toilet seat, or for a hammer or other tool you could buy at a hardware store for $10. Whistleblowers helped stop some of these unlawful practices. But studies indicate that the vast majority of offenses remain unreported and unchecked.
Fraud on the government can and has stemmed from virtually every industry, including housing and mortgage lending, education and student loan obligations, U.S. Customs, finance, and health care too.
In fact, more than half of the $4.7 billion whistleblower recovery in 2016 was from the health care industry alone. Much of this amount arose from inflated or false Medicare claims to collusion and kickbacks among doctors, hospitals, and other medical care facilities.
BP Oil had to pay the government more than $80 million for filing false claims as a result of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Closer to home, the shuttered Charlotte School of Law in Charlotte, NC is embroiled in a whistleblower lawsuit claiming administrators and corporate “shareholders” defrauded the Department of Education out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Why Would Whistleblowers Come Forward?
People reveal fraud on the government for many reasons. Some come forward because of their principles. Some are motivated by the financial incentives. According to TAF, the Justice Department recovered more than $4.7 billion in 2016 for civil fraud and false claims cases. Individuals who file whistleblower claims on behalf of the U.S. government may be able to be compensated anywhere from 15% to 30% of the total recovery in some cases.
TAF reports that half of all successful cases settle for $2 million or less and the average whistleblower award in a $2 million case is $320,000 if there is only one whistleblower.
Who are whistleblowers?
Bank tellers and managers. Nurses and other medical personnel on any level. A mid-level manager for a major corporation (remember Enron?). Defense contractor machinists, suppliers, manufacturers, and procurement companies. Construction companies and their subcontractors.
Anyone who has knowledge of fraud against the U.S. government or state governments and can provide supporting evidence could potentially serve as a whistleblower and file a qui tam lawsuit.
Attorney Gary Jackson handled a whistleblower lawsuit** against CVS Caremark (RxAmerica a wholly-owned subsidiary of CVS Caremark Corporation) for Medicare fraud. This case was one of the first False Claims Act settlements involving Medicare’s Prescription Drug Program, known as Part D. The company agreed to pay the government $5.25 million* to resolve allegations that it made false submissions to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Gary has participated in several other whistleblower (qui tam) cases both in the federal courts and North Carolina state courts.
Anyone has the right to report fraud by way of a whistleblower (qui tam) lawsuit as long as the information they provide is original information that was not previously known and is not known to the public.
What are examples of fraud that people have reported?
You might be a nurse or office administrator that notices a doctor “upcharges” Medicare and Medicaid patients on a regular basis. An upcharge is when your insurance should be coded for one thing, but instead that code reflects something more costly. You may be a branch manager in a bank who discovers a pattern of fraud, like the Wells Fargo fake account scandal. A Wells Fargo branch manager was fired after reporting her suspicions of fraud. Federal law prohibits retaliation when an employee reports potentially unlawful activity. The branch manager sued and won her job back and more than $500,000 in back pay and legal fees.
Why would I want to report a claim?
Why should you care if the government is being defrauded? That is for you to decide. We believe that the majority of the people that come forward do so because they feel it is the right thing to do.
People come forward for many reasons. Some because of their principles. Some for the financial incentives, which can be from 15% to as much as 30% of recovery (30% if the government declines to participate).
How much might I get?
Individuals who file successful whistleblower claims on behalf of the U.S. government may be able to be compensated up to 30% of the total recovery if the government does not become involved in the case. Some whistleblower claims can settle for tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. The TAF website reports that half of all successful cases settle for $2 million or less and the average whistleblower award in a $2 million case is $320,000 if there is only one whistleblower.
What job protections do I have if I file a claim?
False Claims Act Protects Whistleblowers
Whistleblower provisions of the federal False Claims Act permit individuals to sue on behalf of the U.S. government for false claims and to share in any recovery. The False Claims Act allows those with evidence of fraud against federal programs or contracts to sue the wrongdoer on behalf of the U.S. government. While employees and others having knowledge of fraud may be reluctant to come forward with a lawsuit due to possible repercussions from their employer, the False Claims Act allows them to file a whistleblower claim while receiving certain protections under federal law. If the whistleblower is an employee, the False Claims Act offers protection from discrimination, termination, shortened work hours, demotions, an inhospitable work environment, and other punishments from the employer.
The complaint is filed under seal for 60 days or longer and is not available to the accused company, entity, or the public, and it cannot be discussed except by those who are investigating the case. During this 60-day period, the government will investigate the claims and gather evidence. If the government chooses to participate in the lawsuit, litigation will be conducted with an attorney and the government’s lawyer. If the government chooses not to participate, the attorney may continue to pursue the case on behalf of the whistleblower in some cases.
Won’t I eventually lose my job if my employer is found guilty?
While cases are filed under seal for 60 days to help protect the whistleblower, your anonymity will not last forever. Whistleblower protections are generally triggered if you have been fired, and filing a False Claims Act case will not necessarily prevent you from being fired.
What Is the Case Process if My Claim Is Accepted?
While the average whistleblower case requires 38 months, some cases can take much longer. The whistleblower must be able to show documented evidence of allegations – emails, phone conversations, billing records, test results, sales reports, etc., and the information must be original information and not known publically.
The federal False Claims Act requires you to file a complaint in court and submit it to the government along with a Disclosure Statement, detailing the allegations. Your James Scott Farrin whistleblower attorney will do this for you.
This evidence will be used in the written Complaint or Relator’s Statement filed with the responsible U.S. Attorney. The Complaint and the Relator’s Statement will include the name of the entity suspected of fraud, the nature and operation of the alleged fraud, and any documented evidence supporting it.
If the government decides to pursue your lead, they will conduct their own investigation. This could take many months over and above the 60 days during which the case is sealed. During this time your identity and any case information is kept confidential, and any complaints filed in court are kept under seal. Governmental officials may interview you and others during this time in their efforts to obtain additional proof of alleged fraud.
If the government ultimately decides to take the case, you will most likely be required to participate, including appearing at trial. At this time your identity will be disclosed. When the government intervenes, the majority of cases are successful and you would receive a portion of the government’s recovery.
How long does the process take?
The government does not move quickly and there may be lengthy and exhaustive processes, procedures, and protocols during a whistleblower undercover investigation. During this time, you may hear very little from the government or know little about their progress.
Approximately 100 to 150 cases a year are positively resolved.
Is it worth moving forward with a claim if the government decides not to participate?
If the government decides not to pursue the case, which can happen in 80% percent of the cases, you can still file suit on behalf of the government. If your case is successful, you would be entitled to a higher portion of the government’s recovery, up to 30%. The whistleblower attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin can help you determine if your case is worth pursuing if the government declines to participate.
Did You Know?
Whistleblower laws were reinforced during the Civil War when contractors for the U.S. government engaged in fraud by selling the military cardboard boots, sawdust for gunpowder, decrepit horses, and rotted ships repainted to look new. And they would overcharge for these products that were not only useless, but potentially put soldiers at risk.
Why do I need to hire the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin to help?
Whistleblower law is a unique area and there aren’t many North Carolina lawyers or law firms with experienced attorneys who have handled whistleblower cases. James Scott Farrin attorney involvement with whistleblower cases in NC state court and federal court is greater than many**. It would be prudent to have capable hands-on experience on your side.
Because there is so much at stake, we handle these cases on a contingency fee basis. As one of the largest law firms in North Carolina, we have the financial, human, and technological resources to front the inevitable expenses involved in investigation. You pay no attorney fees whatsoever if we do not win your case.
Whistleblowers Provide Majority of Government Fraud Recovery
Although many whistleblower lawsuits go largely unknown to the public, whistleblowers are more common than you might think. Fact is, these individuals provide more than half of all U.S. government fraud recoveries according to TAF.
While there can be substantial compensation for whistleblowers, it is not easy or comfortable to come forward with incriminating information. Some people fear job discrimination, job loss, or worse. Yet, Attorney Gary Jackson says he believes many people come forward because they feel it is their duty. “Cheating the government is not only wrong, but many feel, as taxpayers, they too, have been cheated,” he said.
A duty to come forward is what our founding fathers envisioned in 1778 when the U.S. Congress enacted America’s first Whistleblower Law:
“It is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or any other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by any persons in the service of these states.”
NC Law Firm Offers Free Case Evaluation for Whistleblower Claims
Stakes are high for the whistleblower. That is why it is important to contact an experienced North Carolina whistleblower attorney who can help protect your rights and interests throughout the process.
If you have information or evidence that may support fraud against the U.S. government, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free and confidential case evaluation.
* Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.** Some cases listed were handled prior to attorney’s association with the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin.