Rewards for False Claims Act Whistleblowers
The False Claims Act authorizes whistleblowers to sue companies and individuals that defraud the government. These suits are filed under seal in federal court and investigated by the Department of Justice. In return, a whistleblower is rewarded by the government with a significant portion of any recovered funds. In a successful suit, the whistleblower can receive between 15 and 30 percent of the government’s overall recovery.
To collect a whistleblower award under the False Claims Act, the whistleblower must first file a qui tam lawsuit. After filing, the case must either be won through trial and appeal or settled, and the government must recover money from the fraudulent defendant as a result of the lawsuit. The whistleblower is then entitled to 15 to 30 percent of the amount the government recovers from the case. Several State and local False Claims Act laws provide for similar whistleblower awards for recovery of fraudulently obtained state and local dollars.
Multiple factors contribute to how much a whistleblower receives from a successful case that has recovered funds, including:
- Amount recovered. Whistleblower awards are a percentage of the funds the government recovers, based on the whistleblower information. If more is recovered, you receive a larger sum.
- Timeliness. The sooner you report fraud, the more relevant your claim will be to the government. In False Claims Act whistleblower cases, the longer a whistleblower waits, the lower their percentage of rewards. Reporting fraud quickly also helps ensure you’re the first one to file a claim based on the information you have.
- Usefulness of your information. If the government chooses to intervene in your whistleblower lawsuit, the more detailed, accurate and comprehensive your information is, the more valuable it will be in terms of your reward.
- Your whistleblowers legal team. Possibly the biggest influencing factor for the success of your whistleblower claim is the legal team you choose to present your case to the government and – in the vast majority of cases – to litigate your case against a powerful and well-resourced corporate defendant possibly through a trial. Experience, track record of success and the law firm’s financial resources each play an important role in litigating a whistleblower case under the False Claims Act.
Hagens Berman has built a strong relationship with federal and state governments and, as one of the leading law firms in the country, has the respect of its adversaries and the courts. Our firm knows how to best research, develop and improve the presentation and advocacy of your whistleblower case to help it be as impactful and successful as possible. Our firm has a reputation for taking on some of the largest corporations across the country and winning landmark cases to protect consumers, whistleblowers and others against fraud and wrongdoing. Successfully litigating a whistleblower claim typically takes years, and whistleblowers are encouraged to use great care in selecting a law firm and its lawyers to sustain your case with ample resources and talent over the long haul. Hagens Berman is that firm.
- Government intervention. Whether or not the government chooses to act in your case will impact the amount that you receive. In the event the government chooses not to intervene, the whistleblower’s percentage of the award can be between 25 and 30 percent,
Unlike most whistleblower law firms, Hagens Berman will litigate your whistleblower claim regardless of government intervention if the case merits litigation and remains viable. Our litigation for more than two decades has resulted in the recovery of billions of dollars to the government and to citizens wronged by fraudulent corporate activity.
The False Claims Act’s qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions allow citizens with evidence of fraud against government contracts and programs to sue, on behalf of the government, in order to recover the stolen funds. A qui tam suit initially remains under seal for at least 60 days during which time the U.S. Department of Justice can investigate and decide whether to join the action. Most seals are extended at least once, and it is not uncommon for a case to remain under seal for several years.
Since 1987, False Claims Act lawsuits have returned more than $55 billion to federal and state governments. Of this sum, more than $39 billion has been recovered to the federal government as a consequence of civil settlements and judgments. An additional $7 billion has been returned to the states as a consequence of False Claims Act-initiated Medicaid and other settlements, and an additional $9 billion has been collected by the federal government in criminal fines associated with False Claims Act-initiated actions.