The US Department of Justice has three options when a whistleblower files a qui tam action:
- It can decide to intervene. Intervention means the DOJ will agree to prosecute the case against the defendants and seek recovery for false billings and for treble damages.
- It can decide not to intervene. Here, the whistleblower then has the right to file a claim directly against the defendants. Whistleblowers cannot file the claim on their own. They must employ legal counsel to pursue a case after the DOJ has decided not to intervene.
- The DOJ can seek to dismiss the case. Here, the DOJ does more than decline to intervene. It affirmatively seeks to have the case dismissed so that the whistleblower cannot proceed with the claim against the defendant.
The DOJ may decide not to intervene:
- If it does not believe the case involves a federal agency or does not believe the fraud was committed.
- If it does not believe the case is worth the financial cost of hiring lawyers and conducting an investigation. For example, if the false billing is just for several hundred dollars or even several thousand dollars. Generally, the DOJ is interested in cases where the loss by the governmental agency is at least $1 million.
- It does not believe the case is worth pursuing because the defendants are out of business and don’t have the funds to pay any judgment.
- The DOJ is already aware of the evidence asserted in the whistleblower claim because somebody else filed an earlier claim or because the DOJ has independent knowledge of the facts set forth in the disclosure documents.
To increase the chances that the DOJ will intervene in your FCA claim, whistleblowers should consult with experienced qui tam lawyers. There’s usually one chance to ask the DOJ to intervene so it’s important to line up all your ducks in a row and present the best claim possible. For help with your whistleblower claim, call the California Law Offices of Stephen A. Danz and Associates. We’ve been fighting or whistleblowers for nearly 40 years. Call us at online contact form to schedule an appointment. Se habla espanol.or use our