The decision to blow the whistle on a corporation or other business is not one that people take lightly. A False Claims Act lawsuit is a serious accusation with potentially large rewards for the whistleblower and potentially serious consequences for the accused company and corporate actors. These consequences can include civil penalties, criminal penalties, or both.

Hagens Berman has successfully represented many whistleblowers under the federal False Claims Act and similar state laws. We have filed against companies big and small and have protected clients who desire to see justice served. Hagens Berman also makes sure whistleblowers are protected and their interests aggressively advocated for. Our client whistleblowers get what they have earned for the risks they’ve taken and the information they’ve provided.

THE FALSE CLAIM ACT AND CIVIL PENALTIES

The federal False Claims Act is often referred to as the qui tam law. It allows a person (whistleblower), business or association to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the government against persons or businesses that commit fraud against the government. This lawsuit is filed by an attorney on behalf of the client referred to as the “whistleblower” or “relator” in the action.

The False Claims Act lawsuit  is sealed and not made public typically for a few years while the federal government takes a prescribed amount of time to investigate the whistleblower’s claims. After the investigative period, the Department of Justice  will decide if it agrees with the relator that the allegations justify action against the bad actors; if so, the Department of Justice  takes over the lawsuit. When it does not take over the lawsuit, or “intervene,” the False Claims Act allows the whistleblower to proceed with an attorney.

If the whistleblower moves the case forward on behalf of the U.S. government, the penalties for a defendant found guilty of violations will generally include recovery of the ill-gotten gains from the fraud on the government plus civil fines.

Violators receive a civil monetary penalty of anywhere from $11,000 to above $20,000 per false claim. This can amount to tens of millions of dollars on top of the judgment for the dollars wrongfully obtained or withheld from the federal government. Guilty parties can  also by forced to repay three times what they gained through the false claims submitted to the government. Finally, the attorney may recover  reimbursement for legal fees while prosecuting the whistleblower’s False Claims Act case.

THE FALSE CLAIM ACT AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES

The False Claims Act carries the potential of criminal penalties as well. Criminal charges are possible if the Department of Justice finds that a company’s conduct rose to criminal levels. Punishments can include jail time. Because a company itself can’t be sent to prison, criminal investigations usually also focus on Presidents, CEOs and other leaders who orchestrated and implemented the fraudulent schemes at the companies in question. The financial penalties are substantial for corporations and vary according to the nature of the allegations and and the success of the litigation.

THE BENEFITS PROVIDED TO WHISTLEBLOWERS

Whistleblowers primarily wish to see  justice meted out after witnessing or otherwise becoming aware of wrongdoing often at their place of employment, or a competitor’s company. To encourage whistleblowers to come forward, the False Claims Act sets up significant financial incentives that require the government to share can share in the recovery of damages collected by the government from the guilty parties.

If a False Claim Act case is won through trial or settlement, whistleblowers are provided with a share of the money recovered by the government. The whistleblower will generally receive 15 to 30 percent of the judgment. Relators are entitled to a recovery whether the government intervened and took over the case or the whistleblower’s attorney handled the case on behalf of the government.

If a whistleblower is an employee of the company being penalized and has suffered retaliations as a result of his or her efforts to stop the wrongful conduct, the court can also sanction the company for violating the whistleblower’s employment rights. This can include reimbursement for double the wages lost, plus interest and possibly additional damages. In many cases, the whistleblower is entitled to reinstatement in the position previously held with the same seniority level attainted before the False Claims Act lawsuit began. Additionally, the whistleblower could earn reimbursement for the litigation costs and attorney fees that accumulated during the lawsuit’s litigation.

BECOMING A WHISTLEBLOWER AND RECEIVING PROTECTION WITH HAGENS BERMAN

Hagens Berman is a law firm you can trust to prosecute your case and protect your interests. We have the experience to file and litigate your case under the False Claims Act (FCA) and protect your whistleblower rights.

Our benchmark victories include successful False Claims Act cases against corporate giants including Bank of America,pharmaceutical giants like Amgen, medical device makers including Medtronic, as well as many other providers and other companies in the health care space.

Do you think you have a whistleblower case? Call Hagens Berman today and we will help you determine the best course of action for your potential FCA claim. We will gladly listen and walk you through the process, answering any questions you have about becoming a potential whistleblower.