Strong Advocacy for Whistleblowers in Federal and California Qui Tam Actions
Helping Employees and Others Who Disclose Fraud Against The Government Retain Their Share Of The Recovery
Qui tam actions are lawsuits in state or federal courts initiated by individuals on behalf of the government to disclose fraud that is being committed. The actions are brought under the Federal False Claims Act and other federal and state laws. If done correctly, with the assistance of legal counsel, the individual that discloses the fraud can obtain a percentage of any recovery that is obtained. Many whistleblowers have received awards worth millions of dollars and more.
At Stephen Danz & Associates, our statewide California qui tam attorneys understand what conditions the individual must prove to be eligible for a percentage of the recovery. We explain what type of evidence is needed to present the disclosure of a fraud, we work with the government to persuade them to accept the case, and we then advise the whistleblower during the fraudulent action.
Once a recovery is obtained, we fight to get the whistleblower all the reward money he/she deserves. We also bring claims against employers who retaliate against whistleblowers because the whistleblower disclosed company fraud.
The History of Qui Tam Actions
Qui tam is a Latin phrase which essentially means that someone who brings an action for the King/government also brings the actions for himself. The essence of a qui tam action is that the individual who discloses the fraud is entitled to receive compensation for the disclosure.
Claims for Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense Department fraud are brought through the False Claims Act. Whistleblower actions are also authorized in the Dodd-Frank Law for claims of fraud against the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. There is a separate law governing the whistleblower actions against the Internal Revenue Service. California, like many states, has its own whistleblower law for claims involving fraud against state government agencies.
The idea between qui tam whistleblower lawsuits is that there are too much fraud and deceit for the government to find. Therefore, the government provides an incentive, a percentage of the recovery, to induce individuals who know of fraud to come forward and disclose the wrongs. The qui tam laws provide legal protections for those people who risk their careers by providing information on wrongful practices of their companies to a government agency. Companies who wrongfully terminate or punish an employee must rehire the employee, pay any lost wages and damages, and also pay punitive damages, fines, and legal fees for retaliating against a whistleblower.
The qui tam litigation process
Qui tam actions require the assistance of experienced qui tam attorneys. The evidence that is filed must meet specific conditions:
- It must be useful to the government in a fraudulent claim.
- The evidence can’t be information that is public knowledge or that is information the government already has.
- The whistleblower must be the first to present the evidence.
This means there is a delicate balance that a respected whistleblower attorney understands. The evidence must be strong enough to convince the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) to take the claim but if the whistleblower, also called a relator, waits too long – then someone else may file a prior claim, thus preventing recovery for the second whistleblower.
Qui tam actions are filed under seal to give the DOJ time to investigate the claim. Even the company or individual being charged with fraud isn’t informed of the legal claim until the government decides to formally proceed with a lawsuit.
The DOJ can decide to intervene to take the case. If the DOJ succeeds, the whistleblower award generally ranges between 15 and 25% of the recovery. Recoveries normally include more than the amount that was wrongfully billed or that the government lost. Qui tam recoveries can include treble/triple damages for each wrong.
If DOJ decides not to take the case, the whistleblower and his/her lawyer can file their own action. Proceeding with a claim without the DOJ’s help is harder. Therefore, the percentage of any recovery is generally higher if the DOJ does not intervene – between 25 and 30% of the money obtained.
Claims against individuals and companies who commit fraud can take years.
Speak With a Trusted California Qui Tam Attorney Today
If you are aware of any type of healthcare, defense, or financial fraud of any kind involving government agencies or government contracts, you may be entitled to a financial reward for disclosing the wrongdoing. To understand your rights and how qui tam actions proceed, please contact the respected California qui tam lawyers at Stephan Danz and Associates at (877)-789-9707 to schedule an appointment. You can also reach us through our online contact form.
Stephen Danz & Associates represents clients throughout the state of California including Los Angeles, Orange County, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Diego San Bernardino, Sacramento, Ventura County, Riverside, and surrounding areas.
Call today for a free no obligation consultation.