False Claims Act Whistleblower Lawyer
The federal False Claims Act is probably the most powerful tool that private citizens have at their disposal to combat fraud against the federal government. The False Claims Act was first enacted in 1863 to battle war profiteering, a despicable and grizzly practice that was costing the federal government millions of dollars each year. Dubbed the “Lincoln Law,” the original False Claims Act contained “qui tam”, or whistleblower, provisions that allowed private citizens to sue, on the government’s behalf, companies and individuals that were defrauding the government. Lincoln Law whistleblowers could receive 50% of the damages collected by the government.
The current federal False Claims Act also contains qui tam provisions that allow citizens with evidence of fraud against government contracts and programs to sue, on behalf of the government, in order to recover the stolen funds. According to information provided by Taxpayers Against Fraud (TAF), contractors who knowingly submit false claims for payment of government funds are liable for three times the government’s damages plus civil penalties of $5,500 to $11,000 per false claim. Citizens who “blow the whistle” on government contractor fraud may be awarded a portion of the funds recovered, typically between 15 and 25%. Since 1986, False Claims Act settlements and judgments have totaled over $12 billion, according to TAF.
The False Claims Act whistleblower lawyers at Gilman Law LLP are committed to making sure those who “blow the whistle” on government fraud receive all of the protections they are entitled to under the qui tam provisions of the Act. Every day, our whistleblower protection lawyers work with honest people from a variety of industries, as well as federal employees, who seek to file whistleblower lawsuits in order to recover funds stolen from their fellow taxpayers. If you have knowledge of government fraud, you can discuss a potential whistleblower claim with our attorneys at no cost to you. Any information you provide will be kept strictly confidential. Should you decide to pursue your whistleblower claim, our False Claims Act lawyers will be by your side through every phase of the process, to ensure your rights are protected and your whistleblower reward maximized.
Fraud Covered by the False Claims Act
The federal False Claims Act covers fraud involving any federally funded contract or program, with the exception of tax fraud. In the 1980s, the majority of False Claims Act whistleblower lawsuits involved defense contractor fraud. But according to TAF, in recent years most qui tam actions brought under the Act have been used to fight Medicare fraud and fraud against other federally funded health care programs.
Whistleblower lawsuits commonly brought under the False Claims Act include:
Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Whistleblower Lawsuits
- Billing Medicare or Medicaid for services that were never performed, medical supplies and equipment that were never delivered, and lab or medical tests that never occurred.
- Fraudulently use a higher-paying HCPCS billing code to fraudulently reflect that a more expensive procedure or device was involved in the patient’s treatment.
- Paying doctors kickbacks to use a firm’s medical products instead of their competitors.
- Billing Medicare or Medicaid for services or treatment that is not medically necessary.
Pharmaceutical Whistleblower Lawsuits
- Promoting the use of drugs for purposes not approved by the FDA, also known as off-label use.
- Paying doctors kickbacks to prescribe the pharmaceutical company’s drugs over its competitors.
- Failing to file adverse event reports with the FDA.
- Charging Medicare or Medicaid higher prices than is allowable by law.
Defense Contractor Whistleblower Lawsuits
- Violating the Truth in Negotiations Act. As part of the contracting process, a bidding contractor must certify that it has complied with TINA, by truthfully and honestly submitting all relevant cost and pricing data and historical information for the contract.
- Cross charging. This occurs when a contractor with both “fixed price” and “cost-plus” contracts with the government improperly records the labor, materials and overhead from the fixed price contract to its cost-plus contract.
- Failing to manufacture or provide materials according to contract specifications.
- Failing to report product defects.
Legal Help for False Claims Act Whistleblowers
If you want to blow the whistle on government fraud, it is vital you contact the False Claims Act lawyers at Gilman Law LLP to discuss the options available for you. If you don’t follow proper procedure as set forth in the False Claims Act, your rights and protections as a whistleblower could be placed in jeopardy. Our experienced and dedicated whistleblower attorneys will make sure you receive all of the protections the law affords you, and will do everything legally possible to ensure you recover the maximum whistleblower reward possible. For a free and confidential evaluation of your possible whistleblower lawsuit, please fill out our online form or call Toll Free at 1-888-252-0048.
Additional False Claims Whistleblower Program Information
The False Claims Act is the single most important tool U.S. taxpayers have to recover the billions of dollars stolen through fraud by U.S. government contractors every year. The False Claims Act contains Qui Tam provisions that allow citizens with evidence of fraud against government contracts and programs to bring a false claims whistleblower lawsuit, on behalf of the government via the Qui Tam provision, in order to recover the stolen funds. The U.S. Congress passed the False Claims Act during the Civil War to deal with war profiteering. In 1986, Congress created the basic version of the False Claims Act that we have today, increasing the rewards to whistleblowers (or “relators”) who use this law to recover damages and penalties for fraud against the government.
False Claims Act Whistleblower Rewards
In compensation for the risk and effort of filing a Qui Tam case, the False Claims Act allows for a whistleblower reward in the form of a portion of the funds recovered, typically between 15 and 25%. A Qui Tam suit initially remains under seal for at least 60 days during which the U.S. Department of Justice can investigate and decide whether to join the action. Because the case is filed under seal, not even the defendants are aware of the case. The purpose of sealing the lawsuit is to permit the government to conduct its investigation without interference from the defendants. The case may remain under seal for 2 or 3 years, and possibly longer.
If the government joins the case, the lawsuit is unsealed, a copy is served on the defendant, and the government and the relator work together in the prosecution of the case. If the government declines to intervene, the relator may choose to prosecute the case on his own. However, whistleblower lawsuits in which the government declines to join can be more difficult to prosecute.
Money damages under the False Claims Act can be large, Defendants can be liable for three times the amount of damages they cause (“treble damages”). The Act also authorizes penalties of $5,500 to $11,000 for each false or fraudulent claim by a defendant.
Finally, the False Claims Act provides that only the first person to file a Qui Tam suit alleging the fraud can proceed. No court can have jurisdiction over a case where there is already another pending case on file involving the same fraud allegations.
Whistleblower Protections in the False Claims Act
The False Claims Act prohibits an employer from harassing or retaliating against an employee for attempting to uncover or report fraud on the federal government. If retaliation does occur, the relator may be awarded “all relief necessary to make the employee whole,” including reinstatement, back pay, two times the amount of back pay, litigation costs, and attorney fees.
To establish a claim for retaliation:
- the whistleblower must engage in conduct protected by the False Claims Act;
- the whistleblower must show that the defendant had some notice that the whistleblower was either taking action in furtherance of a Qui Tam action, or assisting in an investigation or actions brought by the government; and
- the whistleblower must show that the suspension, firing, demotion, harassment or threat was in retaliation for the protected activities.
The protection against retaliation extends to whistleblowers whose allegations could legitimately support a False Claims Act case even if the case is never filed. Finally, A False Claims Act retaliation case can include whistleblower claims and other legal claims based upon other state and federal laws, and a claim for retaliation may be brought in federal court.