Contact our Georgia national whistleblower lawyers today. Call us at 770-643-1606

Do I Need a Lawyer If I Am a Stark Law Whistleblower?

stark law whistleblower

stark law whistleblowerIf you have evidence that a physician is violating the self-referral law of the False Claims Act, you could become a Stark Law whistleblower. The Physician Self-Referral law, also known as the Stark Law, restricts physicians from making referrals for designated health services that will be paid for by Medicaid or Medicare if the physician has a financial relationship with the entity to which he is referring the patient.

The circumstances under which a physician would violate this law are very specific. Therefore, let’s break it down further to clarify exactly when a physician is breaking the Stark Law:

The Referral Is for a Designated Health Service.

The Stark Law only applies to very specific diagnostic tests and certain procedures, classified as designated health services, or DHS. As a result, DHS includes any of the following tests or procedures:

  • Laboratory services
  • Physical, occupational, and outpatient speech-language therapy
  • Certain imaging services, including radiology
  • Services and supplies pertaining to radiation
  • DME and associated supplies
  • Parenteral and enteral nutrients and associated equipment and supplies
  • Prosthetics, orthotics, and any associated devices or supplies
  • Home health services
  • Prescription drug obtained on an outpatient status
  • Finally, inpatient and outpatient hospital services

Medicaid or Medicare Pay for the Designated Health Service.

This law aims to prevent the occurrence of Medicaid or Medicare fraud. Therefore, the law only applies to services that Medicaid or Medicare reimburse.

The Physician Has a Financial Relationship with the Entity.

This is the self-referral portion of the law. If the physician making the referral, or a family member, invests in, owns, or will be compensated for the referral in some way, this is considered a financial relationship. Furthermore, the Stark Law prohibits physicians from referring the services listed above to an entity with which they have a financial relationship.

Do I Need a Lawyer If I am a Stark Law Whistleblower?

The answer to this question is, it depends. If you wish to use a hotline to file a complaint, you are free to do so. However, it is important to understand you cannot receive a reward as a Stark Law whistleblower when you use a hotline. The False Claims Act indicates that Stark Law whistleblower may be able to receive a portion of the recovered funds. Hence, you must file your claim with an attorney if you wish to receive the reward.

The team at Bothwell Law Group has extensive experience navigating the Stark Law and assisting Stark Law whistleblowers in obtaining the compensation they deserve for reporting fraud. Therefore, you can  learn more about becoming a Stark Law whistleblower, call 770.643.1606 to speak with one of the experienced attorneys at Bothwell Law Group.

What Steps Should Be Taken to File a False Claims Act Complaint?

false claims act complaint

false claims act complaintIn order for your False Claims Act complaint to have the best chance of intervention from the government, it’s critical to take the correct measures as you move through the reporting process. First, let’s cover what makes up a False Claims Act complaint and then address the necessary steps you should take to file your complaint.

What Is a False Claims Act Complaint?

The False Claims Act allows private citizens to bring a lawsuit against individuals or businesses that have defrauded the federal government. The government files the case in US District Court under seal and then determines whether or not the evidence is sufficient for them to intervene in the case. If they decide there is just cause for the complaint, the government will take over the prosecution. If the fraud is proven, then the person who brought the case forward can receive up to 15-30% of the damages recovered by the government.

What’s the First Step in Filing a False Claims Act Complaint?

Because the process to winning a False Claims Act complaint is complicated, the first step you should take is to find an experienced attorney. You need to choose an attorney who has tried False Claims Act charges and won in court. One of the most important parts of a valid False Claims Act complaint is presenting the right kind of evidence to convince the government to intervene in the case.

It is critical to know there is a statute of limitations for filing a False Claims Act complaint. The law says you have six years from the time of the fraud to file. The time limit runs from the date the government paid the fraudulent claim. Certain types of fraud have different limitations, so make certain you file the complaint promptly. Your attorney will need to make sure you are within the statute for your particular situation.

Additionally, one of the first things your attorney needs to determine is whether anyone else has made the same claim you have about the company in question. Only the first person who files a False Claims Act case with an allegation of fraud is allowed to continue as the recognized “whistleblower.” The whistleblower is the only one who can receive a portion of the recovery as a reward.

When your attorney files your False Claims Act complaint in the US District Court, the government seals the file and then conducts an investigation. The seal means the case and the investigation are kept confidential and secret. The original seal is for 60 days but is usually extended for months while the inquiry is carried out. The accused has no idea there is a complaint against them while the investigators search the facts.

The conditions of the seal also mean you must keep the details of the case, as well as the fact that the charges exist, confidential. At the end of the investigation, the government decides whether they will intervene in the case or not. If the government decides to intervene, this means they take over the prosecution of the case.

What Evidence Does My False Claims Act Complaint Need?

There are several things your false claims attorney needs to bring a complaint to the US District Court:

  • Your attorney must be able to show your employer’s role in the fraud.
  • You must have evidence showing when the fraud took place.
  • Because the statute of limitations begins from the time the government pays the claim, you need proof of this payment.
  • You need to have exact dates when the fraudulent acts took place.
  • You need to be able to identify who made the false claims and where the fraud happened.
  • You need to show how you found out about the fraud. Your information is critical to the case, so it must be proven to be correct and reliable. Other questions will include whether this information is public knowledge and whether your employer is aware you know and are making a claim.

Your evidence can be in the form of emails, sales receipts, vouchers, invoices, sales records, and more. They may be in hard copy form, but the best evidence is if you can prove it is in the database of the company. If you can make copies onto a removable CD or flash drive, it is always best to store the evidence off company property. That way, you can protect it from being changed or erased.

You and your attorney must carefully prepare each step of the False Claims Act complaint and back up all of it with substantial evidence. If the case is solid, it influences the government to intervene, and they will take up the cost and the burden of prosecuting the case. Most False Claims Act complaints are decided in motions and negotiations. Having the US Attorney’s office on your side can only benefit you. Having an attorney who is well versed in this type of litigation can increase the percentage of reward you receive.

Taking your case all the way from filing a complaint to reaping a reward can feel like a journey of a lifetime, but if you are ready to take the first step with your whistleblower case, contact the skilled False Claims Act complaint attorneys at Bothwell Law Group by calling 770.643.1606 today.

How to Tell If You’ve Hired the Best Whistleblower Attorneys Available

best Whistleblower Attorneys

best Whistleblower AttorneysIs it worth it to hire the best whistleblower attorneys? Qui tam cases can result in rewards in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. When that kind of money is on the line, you don’t want to take chances. If you are building your dream home, you want the best housebuilders around. If you are bringing a qui tam case, you want the best whistleblower attorneys to help you.

Here are a few factors to consider as you determine whether or not you’ve found the best whistleblower attorneys for your qui tam case:

The Best Whistleblower Attorneys Know Their Stuff

It’s pretty simple to become the lead dog at anything; you need to know what you’re doing. The greatest teacher is experience. When you look for a whistleblower attorney, look for someone who has a track record proving their knowledge and their ability to win.

Most attorneys have an area in which they excel and focus and receive ongoing training in that area, and also know the most up-to-date information. When it comes to whistleblowing, the entire process is very detailed and can be complicated. Your attorney needs to know the best move to make at each stage of the game.

Don’t settle for an attorney with just a winning track record in court. You want to choose an attorney with a winning record for qui tam cases. The qui tam case is different than many other types of lawsuits because you are bringing a case to the government for investigation. There are layers of red tape and plenty of I’s to dot and T’s to cross, so everything is laid out according to the rules.

Many attorneys have experience in employment discrimination suits or class action suits, which have certain commonalities with False Claims Act suits, but this is not the same as a lawyer who knows how to handle the critical differences of a whistleblower suit properly. Make sure you choose an attorney with a proven track record of qui tam cases they have won in court.

A good qui tam case requires a lot of resources, both financial and human. There are a lot of expenses involved in building a whistleblower case. Money is needed for investigating, filing papers, and hiring consultants to research and analyze documentation. Every allegation needs to be substantiated, and that takes time and money.

Experienced whistleblower attorneys have a team of lawyers and other professionals to take on the work. Experts, each working in their particular area, will put together the most airtight case possible. These experts will need to meet with you to consult and gather your information. The right whistleblower attorney may even take care of the travel expenses for you.

Look for Whistleblower Attorneys You Like

A strong whistleblower case doesn’t happen quickly. It can take as long as three years, so you want to make sure you like your attorney. While their knowledge and track record are both critical, you need to have an attorney who you like so you don’t cringe every time you have contact. Your attorney is the one who not only puts your case together but also negotiates your reward, so a solid working relationship is important.

Make sure the attorney you choose is willing to listen to you and provide you with updates on the case. While you can’t expect him to call you with every little detail, you should receive regular updates when progress takes place.

Your qui tam attorney must convince the Department of Justice to intervene and take on your case. While the strength of your case will be the determining factor, a good relationship can only work in your favor.

Whistleblowing can be very stressful, and you want an attorney who understands that and has some compassion for your position.

Has Your Whistleblower Attorney Made It Clear Why You Should Hire Them?

When interviewing attorneys for the job, make sure you ask them plenty of questions and make sure you get clear answers. Find out if they have the time and resources to represent your case efficiently. Ask about their track record with qui tam cases and request some real-life examples.

Question how much documentation they need from you and what their policy is to find more. Ask about retainer fees and contingency fees. Find out if the firm covers the expenses, to be recouped from the reward. If not, what are the expectations for payment? Ask if they will ask for damages including their fees or if the costs will come out of the reward.

You hire your attorneys, and, therefore, they work for you. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions you need to ask to feel confident in your decision. Once you hire your attorneys, trust in their ability to do what you need, unless the evidence shows they cannot. When you can trust your lawyer, much of your stress related to the case will fall away.

If you’re planning a whistleblower case, the attorney you hire is the most important decision you can make. Have questions about what makes for the best whistleblower attorneys? Contact the Bothwell Law Group online today.

9 Tips for Whistleblowers from Experienced Qui Tam Law Firms

experienced Qui Tam Law Firms

experienced Qui Tam Law FirmsWhy should you go to an experienced qui tam law firm when you are building a whistleblower case? When you need to get something done right, you want advice from the experts, right? If you’re looking to invest in stocks, you find a Wall Street broker for the best tips. If you’re redecorating your home, you call a top designer. If you’re building a whistleblower case, you look to experienced qui tam law firms for tips.

Are you considering a whistleblower case? Keep in mind these nine tips from Bothwell Law Group:

1. Get a qualified attorney.

The single most important thing you can do as a whistleblower is to hire an experienced attorney. You need a lawyer familiar with the whistleblower laws and one who is familiar with the entire process. Not only can a good attorney help you determine if you have a whistleblower case, but he will keep your best interests in mind throughout the whole process.

Your employer will look out for their protection, and the government’s prime concern is the recovery of the assets fraudulently taken from them. Hire a qualified attorney who knows all the ins and outs of whistleblowing to help you protect your job and recover your reward.

2. Keep copies.

When you bring evidence of the fraud to either your employers or to the attorney general, make sure you keep copies of everything. You may never need them, but if you do, they’re invaluable. Also, keep copies of any positive remarks about your employment, such as reviews and recommendations. These are important if your employer attempts any retaliation disguised as a work performance issue.

3. Document everything.

If you’re considering building a whistleblower case, it’s imperative to document everything you can. Keep track of dates, conversations between involved parties, appointments that might be pertinent and anything else that might be related to the fraud. Keep a hard copy of everything, not just a digital copy. If your only documentation is on the computer and something happens to your hard drive, you will be left with nothing

4. Report to authorities promptly.

Once you’ve determined that fraud is going on, you need to report it, face to face, to the attorney general of your state. There are statutes of limitations for whistleblower cases. Also, only the original reporter is eligible for a reward. By delaying too long, you are taking the chance of someone else reporting the activity, and you lose any opportunity for the reward of up to 15%-25% of the amount of money recovered.

5. Save some cash.

Whistleblower laws protect you against any retaliation at your job. According to the law, you cannot be fired or passed over for promotions or wage increases. Harassment, in any way, including a change in hours, benefits or status, is against the law. Although the law is clear, that doesn’t mean your employer won’t try to dismiss you, forcing you to fight legally to get it back. If you can save some money before moving ahead with your suit, you will eliminate a significant amount of stress.

6. Keep it quiet.

Whistleblower cases are kept under seal while the government investigates the case. The seal means everything is kept anonymous and private. You are not allowed to discuss any of the particulars of your case, or even the fact that an investigation is taking place. Don’t risk the situation by speaking about it to the press or anyone else until the court seal is removed.

7. Be specific.

You’ve heard the adage about the three most important things in real estate being location, location, location. In a whistleblower case, it could be said the three most important things are specifics, specifics, specifics. Keep track of exact dates, timecards, participants in phone conversations or meetings, dollar amounts, billing dates, and any other details you have. The more specifics you provide, the tighter your case will be.

8. Be careful about whom you trust.

Whistleblowing is not something to take lightly. It’s a matter of felony fraud at a federal level, which can mean serious prison time and hefty fines if proven to be false reporting. Many times, the scam involves a significant number of people cooperating for a payoff. Be extremely careful whom you trust – especially at your job. You can’t be sure who might a part of the illegal activities – or who might blow the whistle on you and your suspicions. Make certain that what you think is happening actually is. Get copies of evidence and keep them offsite, never at work.

9. Don’t sign anything.

You may decide to bring your allegations to your employer before you go to an attorney. Many companies have specific procedures set up for reporting fraudulent activity or any other criminal behavior. Should you choose to do this, make sure you do not sign anything indicating an agreement to refrain from a lawsuit or showing any financial compensation in return for dropping the allegations. Not only will this eliminate any possibility of you receiving your rightful share of the recovered money, but it could also implicate you legally. Don’t sign anything until you show it to your attorney.

It’s possible to build a compelling qui tam case resulting in both knowing you helped right a wrong and receiving a potentially substantial reward. The first step is finding a law firm that knows how to help you. Visit us Bothwell Law Group online to learn more about the benefits of working with experienced qui tam law firms.

Understanding the Basics of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989

Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989

Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 shields government employees who report unfair practices in management. The act was created when whistleblowers dealt with intimidation in the workplace after reporting fraudulent activity taking place in their division. Many of these individuals were forced to quit, if not fired, shortly after bringing injustices to light. There have been modifications to the law since its inception, but the basics of the act remain the same.

What the Whistleblower Act Does

The Whistleblower Act of 1989 ensures protection from threats. The Act prohibits a government entity from threatening an employee who has disclosed incriminating information with termination or any other disciplinary action solely because of what has been reported. If a government division violates this rule, the whistleblower can sue for damages in the case that the court determines the employee received legitimate threats.

Changes to the Whistleblower Act in 2012

President Barack Obama made changes to the Whistleblower Act in October 2012. Such revisions, recognized as the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, gave individuals working for intelligence agencies in government more leeway when reporting unfair practices. These people were sworn to secrecy prior to the enhancement act of 2012 because of the sensitivity of their work.

Some individuals in management took advantage of the conditions and threatened employees with disciplinary action despite the initial Whistleblower Act of 1989 being in full effect. President Obama’s additions ensure that today all government employees receive the opportunity to report unfair practices without fear of being reprimanded.

More Whistleblower Changes in 2014 and Beyond

On July 14, 2014, the House of Representatives voted to pass the All Circuit Extension Act. The bill sought to extend the judicial review time for Merit Systems Protection Board decisions in whistleblower cases.

Additionally, several senators presented the idea of including the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act with the 1989 whistleblower law. These reforms give FBI employees more protection when reporting corruption in the department. Under the proposed bill, whistleblowers within the Bureau will be assigned administrative law judges who adjudicate cases and ensure no intimidation is taking place. Supervisors who violate a whistleblower’s rights would be reprimanded more quickly since designated judges would be assigned to individual cases.

Why the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 Is Necessary

Whistleblowers often endure harassment in the workplace after reporting unfair practices. While it is true that a company cannot terminate an individual for disclosing information, management can always find ways to make a person’s job more difficult.

Assigning additional work and embarrassing the whistleblower in front of co-workers are two of many tactics that supervisors use when attempting to “get back” at employees for speaking out. It is, therefore, necessary to have the Whistleblower Act in place and continually revised to ensure protection and contribute to a stress-free work environment.

What a Whistleblower Attorney Can Do for You

An experienced attorney brings years of experience and research tactics that can contribute to a successful case. A whistleblower lawyer will devote immeasurable time and effort to ensure the whistleblower is fully protected and rightly compensated for his actions.

Want to know more about your rights under the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989? Contact our team at Bothwell Law Group online.

The ABCs of the Federal False Claims Act

Federal False Claims Act

Federal False Claims ActIf you’re interested in learning more about the federal False Claims Act, here’s a brief summary of the history, rationale, process and rewards potential it affords individuals. While by no means comprehensive, this primer should provide you with insight into why the legislation was enacted, and why it continues to be an extremely effective tool for combating fraud.

The Origin of the False Claims Act

During the Civil War, Union Army suppliers were defrauding the government by providing substandard provisions, reselling the same goods and items back to the Army, and a host of other fraudulent activities impacting both troop morale and the government’s bottom line. In response, Congress enacted the federal False Claims Act in 1863.

The FCA provided grounds for fining and punishing any business or individual who knowingly submitted a false claim to the government. Since the original inception, the Act has been amended and strengthened several times in past 150+ years.

The False Claims Act Today

Under the False Claims Act, an individual has a right to file a qui tam lawsuit on the government’s behalf. Any individual with knowledge of fraud against the government can file.

The Department of Justice has recouped tens of billions of dollars in the past three years alone. Every single dollar recovered was the direct result of settlements and judgments issued in civil cases involving fraud and false claims. The two greatest areas of recovery are defense contractor fraud and healthcare fraud.

Filing a Qui Tam Claim

If you have evidence of a business or individual defrauding the government, you should consider filing a qui tam claim. Here’s a highly abbreviated version of each step in the process:

  1. Gather as much evidence as you can.
  2. Bring the evidence to an experienced qui tam law firm for evaluation.
  3. Determine how you’d like to proceed (gather more information, or begin the next step).
  4. Craft your complaint to the government.
  5. File the complaint in secret (called “under seal”).
  6. Assist the government with review of the complaint and provide any additional information to them as needed.
  7. Receive a decision from the government on whether or not they will intervene in the case.
    1. If they intervene: sit back and let them run the case through to completion.
    2. If they don’t intervene: determine whether you and your legal team want to take the case to court.
  8. Go to trial.
  9. Receive the Court’s
  10. Receive your reward from the recovered monies, issued at the sole discretion of the court.

Each of these steps is significantly more in-depth than what is captured here, but at a high level, you’ll need to go through each of these steps to reach completion.

Determining Your Reward in a Qui Tam Claim

If you happen to win your case, you are entitled to up to 30% of the monies recovered by the government as a result of the lawsuit. This amount can vary depending on a variety of factors including:

  • If the government intervened
  • If you designed the fraudulent scheme yourself
  • If you played a knowing part in any of the fraud
  • The amount of evidence you contributed or were able to gather
  • And more

You are also entitled to having your legal and court fees entirely covered by the defendant. In a successful case, you won’t end up paying a single dime out of your own pocket to cover any form of legal or court costs.

Have Additional Questions about the Federal False Claims Act?

Find out what you need to know about the federal False Claims Act by calling 770.643.1606 to reach our team at Bothwell Law Group today.

Will the Federal Whistleblower Laws Really Protect Me If I Report Defense Contract Fraud?

Federal Whistleblower Laws

Federal Whistleblower LawsWe get a lot of questions about the protections provided by federal whistleblower laws. Many people wonder what they are, whether they qualify, and if they are truly enough to protect against any unfair retaliation. To make it easier, we’ve provided a brief overview of coverage, limitations, and other items you should consider.

What Are Whistleblower and Anti-Retaliation Laws?

At the most basic level, they protect an individual from employer retaliation in the event they report any of the following:

  • Fraud
  • Safety
  • Environmental hazards
  • Gross waste
  • Abuse of power
  • Negligent or criminal management
  • And more.

They were designed to encourage people who were aware of wrong-doing to step forward, without fear of losing their jobs or livelihood. They specifically protect against an employer engaging in any of the following tactics as a result of an employee’s whistleblowing:

  • Termination
  • Harassment
  • Demotion
  • Creation of a hostile work environment

What Requirements Do I Need to Meet to Prove I was Retaliated Against?

First and foremost, you must meet any of the state or federal timelines for filing. The statute of limitations varies by complaint type, so be sure and check with a local attorney about your state’s laws.

Also, you must prove all of the following elements:

  1. You engaged in a protected activity (i.e. whistleblowing)
  2. Your employer knew or suspected you engaged in this activity.
  3. You suffered an adverse employment action (like those listed above)
  4. Your engagement in the protected action was what caused your employer to take adverse action.

Is There Anything Else I Should Consider in a Whistleblower Situation?

Yes.

Even if your employer does not retaliate in any way, shape, or form, becoming a whistleblower may impact other areas of your life. Depending on how your actions affected the company, co-workers may hold you responsible for fine, layoffs, and even jail time resulting from your claim or lawsuit. Is it common? Or fair? No. But it’s an unfortunate side-effect which has been known to happen.

Another consideration is the size of the industry you work in, and how readily available or marketable your skills might be outside of the industry. Many people find it extremely uncomfortable to remain in their current company’s employ after filing a complaint or lawsuit against them. However, doing so can mean you will have difficulty finding employ elsewhere.

In small industries, such as defense contracting, most people know each other well. You will be at the mercy of the rumor mill, and another company may not be willing to take a chance on hiring you. This can effectively force you out of the industry entirely; a difficult prospect if your skills and abilities are limited and highly specialized.

Still Have Questions about Whether or Not You’d Be Protected under the Federal Whistleblower Laws?

Find out what you need to know about federal whistleblower laws by calling our team at Bothwell Law Group at 770.643.1606 now.

What You Need to Know About the Laws That Protect Whistleblowers Before You Take Any Action

Laws That Protect Whistleblowers

Laws That Protect WhistleblowersIf you’re Googling “laws that protect whistleblowers,” chances are good you’ve encountered something not quite right where you work. If you’re wondering whether or not you should do something about it, you’ve taken the right first step: finding out more about what legal protections you have.

The False Claims Act lays out some very explicit protections against retaliation, as well as remediation for parties wronged as a result of filing suit. However, enforcement is not universal, and the very specificity of the laws can leave a lot of other gray areas in which you might be at risk. Here’s a quick overview of what they do (and do not) cover.

False Claims Act Anti-Retaliation Provisions

In general, the FCA statute makes it illegal to retaliate against whistleblowers and individuals who have opposed illegal activities. Specifically, it prevents an employee from being:

  • Fired
  • Demoted
  • Suspended
  • Harassed
  • Discriminated against
  • Threatened with any or all of the above

To file suit under the retaliation provision, an employee must prove two things:

  • He/she engaged in a protected activity (i.e. whistleblowing)
  • He/she was discriminated against in one of the manners above as a result of the same protected activity

Anti-Retaliation Remediation

In general, these are designed to “make the employee whole” as it were. This can include reinstatement (at the same level or status obtained previously); double the amount of back pay and interest owed on back pay; and additional special damages resulting from the discrimination. As part of the damages, you can include all court and attorney fees, as well as additional compensation for duress, suffering and so forth.

Unfortunately, the law around this is not universal, and can be subsumed by state-level legislation that covers the same topic. This variability includes the timeline for filing a retaliation lawsuit. The statute of limitations will depend on the content and provisions contained in a given state’s closest legal equivalent.

What Isn’t Covered Under the Anti-Retaliation Provision

While these protections are all well and good, there are other social and industry ramifications you can sometimes experience. For example, if the lawsuit leads a company to shutter an entire division, or even close their business doors for good, the people who are out of a job might lay the blame at your feet. It’s not fair, but you are likely to lose friends and acquaintances during the process.

Another example is especially appropriate in the defense industry. Because it’s a small, contained group of individuals, most people tend to know one another, and word can travel fast. You may earn an unwarranted reputation as a high-risk hire, making it very difficult for you to get another job within the industry. It’s almost impossible to prove, and yet very likely to occur.

Looking for More Information on Whistleblower Protections?

Find out what you need to know about the laws that protect whistleblowers by calling 770.643.1606.

Are the Rewards for a Qui Tam Whistleblower Worth the Risks?

Qui Tam Whistleblower

Qui Tam WhistleblowerIf you’re thinking of becoming a qui tam whistleblower, you’re probably wondering about the ramifications of your choice. It’s natural to be curious about all the impacts when making a life-altering decision, and there’s certainly plenty of literature out there detailing the potential pitfalls. However, there’s also significant upside.

To help you along, we’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of pros and cons to becoming a whistleblower. While we certainly can’t tell you whether to proceed (or not), we can at least offer you more information for your consideration. Take a look, think it through carefully, and then you can decide how best to proceed.

Pros to Becoming a Qui Tam Whistleblower

  1. Whistleblowers Rewarded with Lots of Money (Potentially)

This is usually one of the number one reasons people decide to become a whistleblower. The rewards for doing so can be staggering; as much as 30% of the dollars recovered. This has been a staple of the False Claims Act since inception, with the prevailing thought at the time being you must use a scoundrel to catch a scoundrel, and all scoundrels are motivated primarily by money.

Whether or not you’ve been complicit in the fraud, you may still be entitled to a healthy sum of money. In fact, the current record award to an individual currently stands at over $100 million. However, the size of your reward will ultimately depend on the amount of money reclaimed.

  1. If You Speak Up, You’ll Have a Clear Conscience

There’s quite a lot to be said for being able to have peace of mind and an undisturbed night’s sleep. Many people feel they have a moral obligation to report fraud once they have uncovered it. Not doing so leaves them with a heavy psychological weight that can be detrimental to health and wellbeing over time.

  1. Protect the Innocent by Filing a False Claims Suit

Many (though not all) cases involve taking advantage of individuals without their knowledge or consent. Whether it’s issuance of substandard materials, or prescribing an aggressive but unneeded course of treatment, there are people out there who are at the mercy of the system. And sometimes the only person willing and able to protect them is you.

Cons of Becoming a Qui Tam Whistleblower

  1. If You Blow the Whistle, Your Life Will Change Forever

Whether you like it or not, eventually it will come out that you played a role in this lawsuit. This can mean all kinds of things for you on a personal level. Unwanted media attention. Alienation by former friends and co-workers. Industry blacklisting. These are all possible pitfalls associated with filing suit. You need to be sure the risk is worth the reward.

  1. You Can Still Lose as a Whistleblower

Contrary to what some people might tell you, there is no guarantee when it comes to filing a qui tam lawsuit. If your case isn’t rock-solid, the court may still find the company’s favor. Or, the court might determine the scope of your case to be quite small, meaning your reward could be 30% of almost nothing.

Still Wondering Whether to File a Qui Tam Suit?

Call 770-643-1606 to learn more about the pros and cons that come with being a qui tam whistleblower by contacting Bothwell Law Group online.

Does the Law Protecting Whistleblowers Really Offer Enough Protection?

Law Protecting Whistleblowers

Law Protecting WhistleblowersAre you familiar with the False Claims Act and the law protecting whistleblowers? If not, you should be.

Before you consider filing a qui tam suit, it’s a good idea to understand what the law does and does not cover. This includes additional ramifications you may not have thought of, and for which you have little recourse.

Specific Protections Under the False Claims Act

In 1986, the government added specific employee whistleblower protection to the False Claims Act in order to prevent employers from using the threat of retaliation to keep whistleblowers quiet. It was also meant to assure those aware of fraud that there would be no retaliation in the event they reported it.

These clauses offer protection from all of the following as a direct result of filing a False Claims lawsuit:

  1. Being fired
  2. Demoted
  3. Harassed
  4. Discriminated against

The exception to these protections is compliance officers and other employees who bear the responsibility for investigating fraud. They must offer a higher degree of proof, including that they threatened the employer with a qui tam lawsuit or other government investigation.

In the event you can prove any of the above in a court of law, you are entitled to compensation and relief. This can include:

  • Reinstatement
  • Double back pay
  • Special compensation for litigation costs, such as court and attorney fees
  • Other damages

Note: State-specific laws that provide different or additional remedies can override protection and relief you might receive in certain states. Also, the statute of limitations for filing a False Claims Act retaliation case is equal to that of that of the state statute that most closely resembles the legislation; it is not universal.

Other Considerations in Filing a Qui Tam Lawsuit

Now that we’ve discussed what is covered, it’s a good idea to talk about what isn’t. This is going to have a major effect on your life. Are you prepared to have your co-workers learn you’re the reason the company is under government investigation? If the answer is no, then reconsider. Even though the original filing of a lawsuit is anonymous, it won’t stay that way forever. If people end up losing jobs or getting fired as a result of your actions, they are going to hold you responsible.

Another area to consider is your industry. Are you prepared to be blacklisted? You should be. While your employer can’t retaliate against you, you might find it extremely uncomfortable to remain at the company for other reasons. But if you work in a highly specialized industry, you may find other companies reluctant to bring you on. Even though you did the right thing, and even though your company was in the wrong, they might fear what you would do if they hired you. You present an unknown risk many won’t be willing to take.

Final Thoughts on Qui Tam Suits

If the ramifications of social responsibility, public health, or your conscience are great enough, you will find these considerations easy to overcome. Alternately, if the size of the payout is large enough, you may not have to worry about working ever again. But if you have even the tiniest bit of hesitation, it’s best to talk things through with your lawyer, crafting a strategy to align best with your goals.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact the skilled attorneys at Bothwell Law Group by calling 770.643.1606, and ask about the law protecting whistleblowers.

What Motivates a Federal Whistleblower to Blow the Whistle on Defense Contract Fraud?

Federal Whistleblower

Federal WhistleblowerYou’ve probably heard stories about someone in the defense industry becoming a federal whistleblower. The person came across fraud of some sort, and then took action to turn in the perpetrators to the government. The trial was long and arduous, taking months, or even years, to complete.

Doing so earned them the title of “whistleblower” and possibly blacklisted them in the industry for the rest of their lives. So why would someone decide to go through with it?

Well, there are a number of reasons you might consider it, but here are a few of the most common:

  1. Is Whistleblowing All about the Money?

With the U.S. spending over $500 billion every year on national defense, the sheer volume of transactions is staggering. This makes oversight phenomenally difficult, and the opportunity for fraud quite high. Even if only 5% of the industry was fraudulent, that is still a $25 billion slice of the pie.

However, the government understands they have a weak spot, and so they implemented the False Claims Act. Among other things, the Act has a provision for rewarding anyone who turns in a company perpetrating fraud. Depending on their role, the size, scope, and impact, the person blowing the whistle stands to receive as much as 30% of the funds recovered.

True, the average amount runs about 16%; but if the fraud is significant enough, it can still mean a huge payday. The whistleblower reward record tops $100 million. That’s more than most lottery jackpots!

  1. Reporting Fraud Is a Patriotic Duty

Sometimes the type of fraud being exposed involves the provision of products and services which don’t meet the agreed upon standards. This was the reason the False Claims Act, also known as the Lincoln Act, was originally put in place during the Civil War.

Contractors agreed to provide items like boots, horses, and munitions of a particular quality for a set price. Instead, they supplied sub-par products (think: weevil-filled flour, boots with holes in the soles, and lame horses near death). The cost of these provisions was much less than what they made on the contract, and the fraudsters pocketed the remaining funds. Needless to say, this led to countless lives lost, and a massive deterioration in morale.

Modern day equivalents could be something like inferior body armor. While it may look fine on the surface, and withstand a single bullet strike, multiple bullet strikes would compromise the protective integrity and lead to significant trauma or death.

  1. Ethical or Moral Objections Lead to Whistleblowing

At the end of the day, some people’s conscience just cannot be quieted. Similar in ways to patriotic duty, the mere fact of KNOWING something is wrong or illegal is enough to drive certain people to take action. The money is a nice bonus but, for them, it’s more about a clear line between right and wrong.

Interested in Learning More About the False Claims Act and Whistleblowing?

Find out what you need to know about becoming a federal whistleblower by calling our legal team at Bothwell Law Group at 770.643.1606 now

Who Pays for a Qui Tam Law Firm?

Qui Tam Law Firm

Qui Tam Law FirmWhen working with a qui tam law firm, one of the first questions you’re probably going to ask is, “How much will this case cost me?” It’s a reasonable question. You want to know how much you’ll be paying out of pocket, and what the impacts might be for you and your family.

While we can’t speak for every law firm, there is a general pattern most reputable firms follow. Keep reading to learn about the costs you can expect to incur at various stages throughout the process.

Initial Fees: Filing a Qui Tam or False Claims Lawsuit

To initiate your lawsuit, you will be required to cover a few small expenses. Generally speaking, there will be a court filing fee, and some administrative costs you will have to pay. However, in the event you win your case, you will be reimbursed for these expenses out of your settlement. You also have the right to request it directly as part of the settlement; something your attorney should be happy to provide.

Continuing the Qui Tam Lawsuit

As the lawsuit and settlement run their course, you’re unlikely to have to pay your attorney anything. This is because most attorneys operate on a contingency fee arrangement. This means they agree to a share of the recovered monies, and they take their expenses from the resulting settlement amount.

There is also a strong possibility that the defendant will be required to cover all statutory fees. Again, this is only in cases where you receive a favorable settlement, but you are entitled to ask for it under the False Claims statutes.

What Happens If You Lose the False Claims Case?

Honestly, it depends. Most contingent fee clauses stipulate fees will only become due and payable upon successful conclusion of the defined scope of legal work. While this usually means a favorable outcome (i.e. the court awards you money, or you reach a favorable settlement outside the courtroom), you should pay close attention to the wording of the contract.

There is the possibility that your lawyer will define a successful conclusion as ANY outcome. This means you may be on the hook for the fees you’ve incurred to this point, even if you don’t win anything in the way of monetary compensation.

What Does All This Mean In the End?

Bottom line? You can file and take your case quite a considerable distance with very little money out of pocket. Just be sure to pay close attention to the documents you are signing, and what the limitations are with regards to a payout of attorney fees at the end of an unsuccessful case.

How Can You Learn More About Qui Tam Representation?

Call 770.643.1606 to find out more about our qui tam law firm by contacting Bothwell Law Group online.