Whistleblowers who report fraud against the government are courageous people. The government realizes that most fraud goes unreported, and those who report the fraud are often inside employees. The False Claims Act encourages whistleblowers to report employer fraud by (1) allowing the whistleblower to receive a percentage of any recovery, and (2) protecting the whistleblower against retaliation by the employer.
One of the most strategic decisions in a false claim action, or qui tam case, is deciding where to file the claim or lawsuit. The goal for an experience whistleblower lawyer is to get the government to intervene and adopt the case. Choosing a venue with a favorable U.S Attorney, relative to the facts of the false claim action, often has a significant impact on the outcome of the case.
The False Claims Act has a very generous and broad venue provision on where a whistleblower is entitled to file the lawsuit. Venue “may be brought in any judicial district in which the defendant, or in the case of multiple defendants, or any one defendant can be found, resides, transacts business, or in which any act occurred.”
Many factors and considerations determine where the lawsuit should be filed. An experienced whistleblower attorney will know the interests, motivations and commitments of a particular U.S. Attorney’s office. An experienced attorney will also know which states have state false claims acts. For example, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland and the District of Columbia all have their own false claims acts. While South Carolina does not yet have a state false claims act. However, the U.S Attorney for the state of South Carolina has made false claim cases a priority and is setting the standard for other states.
A false claim lawsuits, or qui tam complaints, are filed under seal (in secret) and are served on the government. The government then makes the decision on whether to intervene. A false claim complaint must meet certain legal requirements. For example, Rule 9(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires fraud to be plead with particularity. Courts have held that the complaint must be specific as to “who, when and where.” Including the facts and circumstances of the false submission or claims to the government is essential in the complaint. Pleading the complaint properly is the lawyer responsibility, as well as drafting a detailed and inclusive disclosure statement.
A disclosure statement must be served on the government when a complaint is file. A disclosure statement should outline all of the material evidence that supports the whistleblower’s, or relator’s, claim and contentions. The disclosure statement should include copies of any documents that help prove the fraud. An experienced lawyer will know how best draft the disclosure statement, knowing that some courts have held disclosure statements discoverable to the defendants in the litigation process.
An effective disclosure statement should include: methodology of the fraud, names of important witnesses who have knowledge of the fraud, the documents that can help prove the fraud, the location where the documents are kept, a good-faith estimate of the amount of money that has been defrauded, measures the company is taking to conceal the fraud, and general history and description of the whistleblower.
Miller Law Group has extensive experience representing whistleblowers who report fraud against the government. Some of their cases have included Healthcare Fraud, Medicaid and Medicare Fraud, Government or Defense Contractor Fraud, and well as Tax Fraud and Securities Fraud.
If you are considering reporting fraud against the government and becoming a whistleblower, contact Miller Law Group for a free consultation, or call 919-348-3461.