Washington DC Whistleblower Attorney
The federal False Claims Act imposes penalties and consequences for companies or individuals who defraud the government. This law allows individuals to report the crime and file court actions on behalf of the federal government, in so called qui tam litigation. See, 31 USC § 3729-3733.
On the state level, the District of Columbia and 29 other local governments have also enacted false claim laws with so called qui tam provisions. These provisions allow individuals to file actions on behalf of the state government for fraud against the state. For example, the DC False Claims Act can be found under the D.C. Code § 2-381.01 to 2-381.07.
Does your State have a False Claims Act?
The following states have False Claims Act laws that allow you to sue for any kind of fraud committed against that state:
California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts Minnesota, Montana, Nevada New Jersey New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia,
Some States have False Claims Act laws only to fight Medicaid fraud cases:
Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin
These laws are changing and getting stronger all the time. Check with a Washington, DC whistleblower attorney to see if your case involves federal or state False Claims Act law or both. Depending on the facts of the fraud case involved, it may be possible to sue under the federal and under a particular state law at the same time.
Whistleblowers, can take advantage of these laws to obtain a portion of the funds recovered by the government in this litigation.
What types of fraud qualify as a False Claims Act violation?
Any fraud in which government funds are being misused could be the subject of a qui tam case. Some fraudulent practices that may qualify for a qui tam lawsuit include:
- Overcharging the federal or state governments for services and goods
- Bait and switch- billing for expensive products but providing cheaper versions
- Billing twice for the same service or good
- Billing and charging for products and services not performed or delivered
- Fraudulent quality control practices
- Violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
How can I file a qui tam case if I believe someone is defrauding the government?
A qui tam lawsuit, is filed under seal and kept under seal by the court. Only the government department or officials who handle qui tam litigation cases are aware of filing of the complaint. The violator often happens to be the plaintiff's employer, and they are not informed until the seal is lifted by the Court.
When the investigation is completed, the government decides whether or not they will take part in the litigation. Otherwise, the plaintiff and his or her lawyer can proceed by themselves.
Is there a difference between a federal qui tam versus filing a state qui tam claim?
Yes. Both the federal government and many states have their own False Claims Acts and qui tam provisions. The difference in the filing depends on which government funds were being defrauded and in some cases what kinds of fraud the individual state will allow to be the subject of a case.
However, it is possible for the same fraud to damage more than one government. For example, if the fraudulent government contractor supplied goods to both the federal government and to the Washington D.C. government, under the federal False Claims Act, and the DC Code, two claims could be filed based on the same set of facts.
What are the defendant's liabilities and the whistleblower's rewards for a qui tam claim under the federal False Claims Act?
A person or company who are found in violations of the federal False Claims Act must pay a civil penalty of between $5,500 and $11,000 for each false claim and three times the amount of the government's damages.
In a federal qui tam case, if the plaintiff's claim is successful, and the government intervenes in the case, the plaintiff could be awarded 15 to 25% of the amount of money the federal government recovered from the defendant. If the federal government decides not to pursue the claim and the plaintiff's qui tam litigation proceeds and is successful, the award could be 25 to 30% of the amount recovered.
What are the liabilities for the defendant and rewards for the whistleblower of a qui tam claim under the state False Claims law?
Liabilities and rewards under state False Claims Acts are usually modeled on the federal law. For example, according to the D.C. Code, any person or company caught defrauding the District government could be forced to pay three times the amount of harm it has caused to the District. They may also have to pay fines from $5,000 to $10,000 for each offense.
Some states do restrict the kind of fraud which can be the subject of a suit to state funds used for medical care. Some states also allow for greater rewards for the whistleblower than the federal law.
The plaintiff or the person who filed a successful claim under the District's qui tam provision may be awarded 10 to 20 percent of the amount that the District government recovers, should the District's Corporation Counsel intervene in the case. A plaintiff who successfully wins the case on his own may get as much as 25 to 40 percent of the amount recovered by the District. A skilled, experienced Washington, DC whistleblower attorney can help you get the maximum reward in your case.
What type of protection can I expect as a whistleblower?
Coming forward as a whistleblower is not an easy thing to do. When the whistleblower reports fraud internally to their employer, the whistleblower employee may face an increasingly hostile work environment. Employers may try to demote, retaliate or dismiss the employee. Both the federal and many state laws provide relief to the whistleblower from their employers' retaliation.
Why is it important to pursue legal counsel in qui tam cases?
Lawyers who handle qui tam cases help employees or individuals who are planning to file a lawsuit. Many people think that reporting these activities is not right. They do not realize these cases save taxpayers money.
Becoming a whistleblower may be complicated, but there are reputable lawyers in Washington, D.C. who can help plaintiffs go through the process.
DC whistleblower lawyers ensure that their rights are protected and they remain safe from employer retaliation. Moreover, they have vast experience in this highly specialized area as they have already handled big cases involving fraud and other related criminal activities. A Washington, DC whistleblower attorney provides support for plaintiffs from the investigation process to filing and settlement.