Whistleblower/Qui Tam Lawsuit Lawyer

Whistleblowers have to make the difficult decision to reveal illegal activities in an organization. The government needs to recognize the importance of whistleblowers since whistleblowers put their reputations on the line to expose fraudulent behavior. Our law firm is currently handling qui tam lawsuits brought by whistleblowers to enforce the federal False Claims Act or corresponding state statutes. In a qui tam action, a private individual may sue on behalf of the United States government to recover money that was obtained by fraudulent means by an employer or corporation. The private citizen receives a reward in cases where the government successfully recovers its funds.

What is a Whistleblower?

A whistleblower is a person who reports activity within an organization that is illegal, immoral, illicit, unsafe, or fraudulent. Usually, an individual engages in whistleblowing for the welfare of the general public. Oftentimes, the whistleblower is an employee who draws attention to serious violations in the workplace. In some cases, an employer may “retaliate” against an employee for whistleblowing. Retaliation is when an employer fires or takes adverse action against a whistleblower. Besides firing, adverse actions include demoting, denying benefits, intimidation, harassment, reducing pay, and more. Considering the risk whistleblowers take when speaking out against unlawful conditions, the government has implemented whistleblower protections.

The False Claims Act

The False Claims Act dates all the way back to 1863. President Lincoln enacted the False Claims Act during the Civil War to safeguard against suppliers’ fraudulent practices. In 1986, Congress amended the False Claims Act and turned it into the most effective tool in combating fraud in federal spending. These amendments fortified the act and greatly expanded the importance of whistleblowers. The revamped False Claims Act dissolved barriers that made it more difficult to file claims against fraudulent entities. Finally, it also increased incentives for whistleblowers, known as “relators,” to come forward.

Under the False Claims Act, it is a crime for any person or organization to:

  • Knowingly present a fraudulent claim for payment or approval
  • Knowingly make a false record or statement related to a false or fraudulent claim for payment or an obligation to pay the government
  • Knowingly conceal or avoid an obligation to pay money or property to the government

Qui Tam Lawsuits Under The False Claims Act

A qui tam action enables private individuals known as whistleblowers to assist the government in detecting and preventing fraud or other illegal activity. Qui tam allows an individual to file a False Claims Act case on behalf of the federal government. Primarily, qui tam lawsuits protect government property. The whistleblower needs strong evidence, such as financial statements, emails, and memoranda in order to file a qui tam lawsuit. The federal government has recovered many billions of dollars in fraudulent payments pursuant to qui tam lawsuits. Since Congress strengthened the False Claims Act in 1986, the government has recovered $70 billion in cases involving fraud. Qui tam claims may be based on various types of fraudulent behavior including:

  • Medicare and Medicaid fraud
  • Defense contractor fraud
  • Fraudulent use of grants and loans
  • Misuse of disaster relief funds

Compensation for Qui Tam Lawsuits

Individuals found to have defrauded the government under the False Claims Act are liable to pay up to three times the amount actually defrauded in addition to other penalties. An individual who brings a successful qui tam lawsuit can recover up to 30 percent of the amount recouped by the federal government. The whistleblower’s exact cut depends on the verdict or settlement amount and where the qui tam lawsuit was filed. For decades, whistleblowers have helped the government recoup substantial sums of money for decades. The government recovered $5.6 billion through qui tam lawsuits in 2021 alone. Therefore, whistleblowers have obtained significant financial compensation for their efforts to expose illegal and fraudulent practices.

For instance, Laurie Simpson, a former employee of the pharmaceutical manufacturer, Bayer, filed two qui tam lawsuits that alleged the company violated the False Claims Act. Simpson, formerly part of the marketing team, argued that Bayer downplayed the risks and marketed certain drugs for off-label purposes. In September 2022, the Department of Justice ruled Bayer to pay $40 million to the United States and Medicaid participating states. For her work in bringing to light Bayer’s fraudulent action concerning the drugs Trasylol, Avelox, and Baycol, Simpson received $11 million.

Other notable qui tam lawsuit settlements and verdicts include:

  • St. Jude Medical Center paid $27 million to settle a qui tam lawsuit that alleged it knowingly sold defective heart devices to healthcare providers
  • Insitu, Inc., a defense contractor, agreed to pay $25 million for overcharging the government for drones
  • The University of Miami settled a lawsuit under the False Claims Act for $22 million. The lawsuit accused the university of falsely adding expenses to Medicare bills

Anti-Retaliatory Provisions

It requires a tremendous amount of courage to stand up against employers in violation of the law. But, whistleblowers receive protection under the federal False Claims Act. This act prevents employers from retaliating against whistleblowers.

The False Claims Act contains anti-retaliatory provisions that safeguard whistleblowers who pursue qui tam actions that constitute violations of the False Claims Act. Thus, the protections shield whistleblowers from harassment, suspension, demotion, denial of benefits, and sanctions when they report information that is the basis of a Qui Tam action. Laws protect whistleblowers from retaliation even if their reasonable beliefs about the actions constituting a qui tam action are incorrect.

State Reward Programs

Many states have also instituted state whistleblower programs based on the federal whistleblower program. Like its federal counterpart, state programs confer awards for reporting fraud. Additionally, these state programs require the whistleblower to appoint counsel and submit legal documents detailing the fraud.

Should I Consult a Lawyer For My Qui Tam Lawsuit?

If you are considering filing a qui tam lawsuit, you are likely concerned about your reputation and the backlash you might face. Even though you may feel worried that you are putting too much on the line, know that a qui tam lawsuit is a noble endeavor. Institutions, companies, or other entities that engage in fraudulent acts harm and endanger the public. If you have information that can reveal illegal conduct, we urge you to speak with a lawyer to find out if you can file a qui tam lawsuit. We recognize that it is worrisome to come forth with such claims, however, a whistleblower lawyer can guide you through the legal process and explain the protections available to you.

How Our Law Firm Can Help You

The Lake Law Firm was founded by Edward J. Lake, Esq., a personal injury lawyer for over 25 years. Our dedicated team of attorneys is committed to seeking justice on behalf of those who have suffered injury or death due to the negligence of others. Our experienced attorneys handle many different types of pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, and other defective products. The lawyers in our firm have helped collect millions of dollars for their clients. The Lake Law Firm will advocate for you and your rights. Please contact us for a free confidential case evaluation at (888) 274-0139 or submit an inquiry on this page.