Whistleblower Qui Tam Attorney in Fresno
Attorneys at our firm have a long history of representing whistleblowers in California. From False Claims Act (“FCA”) claims to violations of local, state, and federal laws, we have the experience and knowledge to guide you in presenting your case. As an employment law focused firm, we have the resources to investigate and try complex civil cases which lends itself to fraud and class action proceedings. See our dedicated Whistleblower Information Page and blogs for case examples. The most common areas teeming with fraud are the healthcare and defense contracting fields, and our associates have carved a niche within these two areas. Under the leadership of Stephen Danz, our attorneys are ranked as some of California’s best earning Super Lawyer distinction. Contact our office to learn more or to discuss the merits of your case. We provide complimentary consultations without obligation. Note that all discussions with our attorneys during these consultations are confidential and protected by the attorney-client privilege.
What are the Elements of a Qui Tam Case?
One of the first questions we are asked when presented with a fraud case is the elements of a Qui Tam case and how employer violations rise to the level where government will step into the case. In general, anyone has the opportunity to receive a reward for reporting a whistleblower or Qui Tam case to the government. The FCA has been around since 1863 to stem out fraud against the federal government. It has since expanded to curtail fraud against state agencies and thus many states such as California have their own version of the law. At its foundation, the FCA requires that any person who “knowingly submits” a false claim to the government either to receive money or property or avoids paying back money due to the government must pay triple the damages caused to the government plus penalties of $11,000 per violation. Please note that “knowingly” requires that the company had one of the following (1) actual knowledge, (2) deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information, or (3) reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the information submitted.
It is important to keep in mind that a false claim also includes any kind of fraudulent request made to the government or a contractor of the government. That money must then be “knowingly” retained.
Fresno’s Specialized Qui Tam Attorneys
We are Fresno attorneys specializing in Whistleblower, or Qui Tam, litigation. The Defense, Finance and Healthcare industries have produced the most Fresno whistleblowers over the years partly due to the regulated nature of the industries. Fresno, for its part, boasts some of the country’s finest companies within the Defense, Finance and Healthcare sectors. Consequently, our attorneys have represented a growing number of whistleblowers and Qui Tam complainants (or relators) in our hometown.
The recent resurgence of False Claims Act (“FCA”), or Qui Tam, lawsuits has brought this historically dormant practice into the national spotlight often producing multi-million dollar judgments and ongoing scrutiny by a public tired of hearing about companies that defraud the government. Due to Fresno’s extensive health care market, the federal FCA and California FCA combine to enable the government to prevent and litigate fraud, waste, and abuse in government healthcare programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.
California’s FCA is modeled after the federal FCA. In a nutshell, the laws forbid any person who (1) knowingly brings false or fraudulent claims for government payment;
(2) knowingly makes false record or statement to get false or fraudulent claims paid by government;
(3) conspires to defraud the government by getting a false or fraudulent claim paid by the government; or (4) knowingly makes false record or statement to conceal or decrease an obligation to pay the government.
The recent emergence of favorable, and lucrative, results especially in the health care field encourages individuals to expose corporate swindling of government funds and this area is not showing any signs of slowing down. Fresno boasts, and may represent whistleblowers from, some of the country’s finest health care facilities.
False Claims Act /Whistleblower Monetary Penalties
Attorneys at Stephen Danz and Associates have assisted California whistleblowers obtain extremely financially-bountiful results. A violation of the FCA may subject a company to substantial penalties of $5,000-11,000 per violation plus triple damages sustained by the government. Typically, the government initiates criminal proceedings first and then continues with civil prosecution. Our attorneys work together with the government each step of the way.
At the core of the FCA is the ability for private persons (aka whistleblowers/qui-tam relators) to file actions on behalf of the government. Then, while the action is under seal for 60 days, the government can choose to intervene either by litigation or settlement, or decline and allow the private lawsuit to proceed. If the government intervenes (preferred), the private person still receives a share (15-25%) of any recoveries. If the government declines to intervene, the private person receives a higher percentage (25-30%) of any recovery. (31 U.S.C. 3730 et seq.) Contact our Fresno whistleblower and qui tam attorneys today for a free analysis of your case.
Top Whistleblower Protection in California
After choosing to blow the whistle and contacting our attorneys, the whistleblower is informed of the anti-retaliation protection afforded in California. Our attorneys not only represent the whistleblower but they also go to bat protecting the whistleblower from any retaliation. Here are some of the most common whistleblower retaliation protections:
Labor Code Section 1102.5 prohibits retaliation against employees who “blow the whistle” by notifying a government agency on, or refusing to participate in, activity that would violate any laws or regulations in the workplace.
Labor Code Section 98.6 prohibits retaliation against employees who file a complaint for labor code violations with the Labor Commissioner or the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Labor Code 6399.7 prohibits retaliation against employees for filing a complaint or testifying on occupational safety and health issues.
Government Code Section 12653 et al. prohibits retaliation against employees who report to a government entity any fraudulent or illegitimate billing that were improperly submitted for payment to the government.
Government Code Section 12940(h) prohibits retaliation against employees who oppose discrimination or harassment based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age, or sexual orientation.
Within the health care industry, the Health and Safety Code Section 1278.5 prohibits retaliation against patients, physicians, nurses and medical staff who whistleblow to the government or its agencies on patient care issues at a healthcare facility.
California has its own Whistleblower Protection Act at Government Code Sections 8547-8547.12 which specifically protects state employees against retribution from reporting waste, fraud, abuse of authority, violation of law or threat to publish health.
Recent Whistleblower/Qui Tam Case Examples
Spori vs. Confidential Manufacturing Company (Central District of California): aerospace False Claims Act case along with whistleblower claims for retaliation. Approximately $300,000 settlement.
Crawford vs. Sea Crest Nursing Homes. (Southern District of California): Federal False Claim and individual retaliation claim. Confidential settlement following dismissal of FCA.
If you believe that you have a whistleblower or qui tam claim, or experienced retaliation for reporting illegal activity, contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates to discuss your legal options. For a free review of your case, speak to our Fresno whistleblower and qui tam attorneys today by calling us at 877-789-9707.
93715, 93728, 93729
“I would like to thank you for your associate Ely for your kind help, support and extremely detailed insight into my case. Thank you for the referral and for your genuine personal approach to my situation. You have my deepest respect and admiration. He is my favorite lawyer ever yet so far.
– Yulia G.”
Stephen Danz & Associates-Fresno