Retaliation against Whistleblowers – Some Topical Points

Retaliation against Whistleblowers – Some Topical Points

whistleblower

Paramount to having a working whistleblower statute, is having strident anti-retaliation provisions protecting the whistleblower, and successfully navigated by the right whistleblower law firm.  There’s some constant themes for successfully blowing the whistle.  First of all, before you can feel assured that you’re entitled to any protections of the whistleblower statutes you need to determine if you’re a whistleblower.  Sounds simple enough, but it’s not.  I like to analogize this with the medical profession and just because there’s a lot of information online about diagnoses and diseases you shouldn’t go online and diagnose yourself or else you will wind up having a lot more diseases then you actually have.  It’s a phenomenon in medical school where everyone winds up thinking they have every medical condition they are learning about.  Similarly, you may read online that your fact pattern sounds similar to that of someone else who obtained a large whistleblower award and then automatically conclude you are a whistleblower and entitled to the same protections and pre-suppose that you will obtain the same award.  But subtle differences in fact patterns create profound distinctions.  Just like you don’t have the ability alone to differentiate whether you have a cold, the flu, or god forbid the coronavirus, you need to rely on the medical professionals to make the diagnosis, with the law you need to allow a whistleblower lawyer to evaluate your claim to see if in fact you’re entitled to whistleblower protections.  That’s the second major theme, trust the professionals or you will wind up much worse than when you started. 

Politics aside, whistleblowers are prevalently in the news with the recent re-allocation of Colonel Vindman and the recall of Ambassador Sondland.  This blog is apolitical and an attempt to clinically address whistleblower issues. Our whistleblower lawyers only represent whistleblowers.  We don’t represent or defend companies from whistleblowers, so our perspective is from defending and protecting them.  As a former FBI Special Agent, I often lecture on the subject of whistleblowers at national conferences.  At one conference a prominent defense attorney was speaking candidly and indicated that once he identifies who the whistleblower is, he counsels his client to terminate their employment and pay the whistleblower retaliation award later since the continued presence of the whistleblower can lead to incalculable other problems and damages. 

Brown, LLC

It was very eye-opening.  From our experience, once a whistleblowers identity is known they may be subject to retaliation, being frozen out, or want to leave and that’s why when their identity is still anonymous its important for us to counsel to consider your employment options elsewhere in case that occurs.  If I had to make my best predictions what will occur with the cases of Sondland and Vindman in the litigation realm, Sondland will probably not commence any action, and even if he did the Courts will not second guess the authority and ability of the executive branch to appoint and recall ambassadors for any reason they desire.  Vindman probably will commence an action, but they question will be one of damages.  If his assignment is changed, but there is no diminution in pay and he is treated respectfully with prestige at his new assignment it will be a challenging case as an element of most litigation is establishing damages. 

Both those very hot political situations are different than the whistleblowers our firm handle since those cases involve whistleblower protections for federal employees.  Our whistleblower law firm mainly handles cases under the False Claims Act which handsomely provides whistleblower awards for insiders who blow the whistle on widespread defrauding of Medicare of Medicaid.  Types of Medicare Fraud and Medicaid Fraud include upcoding, billing for services not rendered, billing for off campus services at on campus rates, kickbacks, opioid abuse and over prescription and many other ways providers defraud the federal government.  First, one needs to determine if the fact pattern is actionable under the False Claims Act and then a determination can be made whether if there is retaliation the individual(s) are entitled to protection from the strident anti-retaliation mechanisms the False Claims Act provides.

Common Mistakes Whistleblowers Make

COMMON MISTAKES WHISTLEBLOWERS MAKE

As a whistleblower law firm who has successfully handled many cases and also observed the way qui tam cases fall apart, here is a list of some common mistakes whistleblowers make.  If handled correctly whistleblower cases can remedy the enduring problems that lead to fraud against the government, which in turn causes taxes to go up and in turn handsomely compensate the whistleblower for their courage in coming forward.  If dealt with improperly, it’s like a belly flop, in which you’ll make an ugly splash, and have nothing but the red marks to show for it.   And now the list…

FAILURE TO ASCERTAIN WHETHER YOUR CASE IS ACTUALLY A WHISTLEBLOWER CASE

One of the mantras of Sherlock Holmes, the renowned fictional detective is to never ignore the obvious.  Too often people are cocksure that they have a whistleblower case, but in fact, but in the end either the fact patterns are entitled to statutory protection or it’s not, no matter how loudly they crow.  Some things that qualify for Federal Whistleblower Protections:

  • False Claims Act

-Blowing the whistle on things like Medicare Fraud or Medicaid Fraud

-Upcoding

-Kickbacks

-Billing for services not rendered

-Billing for medically unnecessary procedures

-Pharmaceutical Fraud

-Promoting a product for off label purposes

-Falsifying approval or supplemental information to the FDA

-Kickbacks to prescribers

-Defense Contractor Fraud

-Billing for services not rendered

-Willfully avoiding the terms of the contract

-Substituting inferior goods or services than promised to the government

-Customs Fraud

-Not paying taxes or tariffs

  • IRS Whistleblowers

-Blowing the whistle on an individual or entity who has failed to pay at least 2 million in taxes (general minimum threshold to have IRS involvement, but with recent developments in the law failure to pay taxes at all may result in the ability to prosecute at lower levels)

-Tax Fraud or Tax Evasion

  • SEC Whistleblowers

-Sarbanes Oxley violations

-Fiduciary acting for its own best interest rather than the best interest of the client

-Account churning

There are some other federal protections as well, but if your case doesn’t fit into one of the above big items in whistleblower law, it may not be a classical whistleblower case under federal law, but it is always advisable to speak with a qualified, competent whistleblower lawyer to make that determination which leads us to the next mistake.

FAILURE TO RETAIN A WHISTLEBLOWER LAW FIRM EARLY ENOUGH, OR AT ALL

If you’re sick you might comb the internet to assist with self-diagnosing what your illness is, but if you’re really sick you wouldn’t be able to tell whether you’re just fatigued or if you have Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) without consulting a professional.  Worse, you may read about some stuff on the internet and think you have the cure, when in fact, drinking a spoonful of the latest fad (glysophate-free tarantula honey) could in fact still poison you. 

The same is with the law.  You need a professional whose been through it before to assist you in taking the right steps. In fact, most courts rule that to file a False Claims Act lawsuit you need a False Claims Act lawyer or you can’t file it pro se (without a lawyer). That doesn’t even include the perils that you might not file it correctly, since the matter needs to be filed under seal with proper notice to the Attorney General and without noticing the defendants.  Any misstep here may kill your case right out of the gate.

Another common plague we see is that when people run to the government first without filing anything and then retroactively want compensation for that information after the government has concluded its case.  Well, even if you were the original source of the information, unless you’re the first to file under the rules, your information may have resulted in a hundred million dollar recovery for the government, but you’re probably going to not receive the standard 15-25% whistleblower award unless you commenced your action before the government concluded it’s case.  They don’t even have to tell you that, and when you find out, you may have all the downsides of being the whistleblower and none of the upsides.

SPEAK WITH A WHISTLEBLOWER LAW FIRM TO LEARN YOUR RIGHTS

All this adds up to a simple, inevitable conclusion, that if you have information and you think you’re a whistleblower and want to know how to blow the whistle, or expose Medicare fraud or Medicaid fraud you should speak with a whistleblower law firm that whistleblowers rely on by calling Brown, LLC at (877) 561-0000 and speaking with their whistleblower team to find out if you have a viable case and if its worth proceeding and what the proper route is to maximize your chance for a successful outcome for your whistleblower lawsuit.

False Claims Act or Just False Claims

Whistleblowers in the News? An Interview with Whistleblower Lawyer Jason T. Brown

Almost every day in the news right now we hear a headline story regarding whistleblowers, so this article discusses some perspectives on what’s really actionable under the False Claims Act portion of the whistleblower statute, by speaking with noted whistleblower lawyer Jason T. Brown of the firm Brown, LLC.  Brown, LLC handles qui tam cases, commonly known as whistleblower lawsuits and their firm offers free whistleblower consultations by calling (877) 561-0000.  Mr. Brown formerly served as a Legal Advisor and a Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Question: “What’s with all these whistleblowers that I keep hearing in the news on almost every lead-in story?”

Jason T. Brown “Whistleblower is an umbrella term that refers to any person that is blowing the whistle on what they perceive is misconduct.  Blowing the whistle simply means reporting the misconduct and depending on the statute asking for apportion for the recovery that the government enjoys, or damages or other types of injunctive relief due to retaliation.  The whistleblowers that you keep hearing in the news today involve reporting misconduct in the ranks of government and asking for damages and relief for retaliation based on their reporting. No matter what your leanings are,  one would be remiss if they didn’t observe there’s a political element to the whistleblower stories in the press.  By and large the whistleblowers matters that most whistleblower law firms handle involve protecting the taxpayer by putting an end to fraud against the government.”

Question: “Could you tell us more about how someone can help put an end to fraud against the government?”

Jason T. Brown: “Sure, thanks to a law called the False Claims Act, individuals who know about the government being defrauded can use the powerful mechanisms in that statute to file a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit in a very special way.  It’s unlike anything else, where you actually file the case under seal meaning the defendants don’t even learn about it most likely for many, many years while the government decides what it wants to do.”

Question: “Can you give us some type of example about the types of fraud people can blow the whistle on in the False Claims Act?

Jason T. Brown “Fraud against the government is economic fraud that can come in a variety of ways.  The biggest culprit is often Medicare Fraud or Medicaid Fraud, which are government programs, but it also could be defense contractor fraud or a variety of other programs in which the government has a hand in using taxpayer money to fund.  Medicare Fraud could be overbilling, upcoding, hitting the government up repeatedly for services not rendered.  Also, a big no-no that the government looks out for is kickbacks.”

Question: “Why are kickbacks considered a false claim?”

Jason T. Brown “Some of the largest whistleblower settlements involve kickbacks and generally pharmaceutical whistleblowers.  The kickbacks are payments for patients or to promote goods and its generally thought that if one has additional incentives to provide medical care that are under the radar, then their impartiality could be compromised and dictating patient care based on these under the radar payments rather than objective criteria is prohibited.  For example, let’s say a pharmaceutical company develops a brand new product that is FDA approved to treat acne, but a side effect of the product is that it grows hair and the pharmaceutical company gives each doctor a little something something everytime they prescribe their new product there may be a few violations there.  First, if the product is approved for acne but promoted for hair loss and people are using it for hair loss, then the taxpayer shouldn’t be footing the bill to pay for a product for a purpose that hasn’t been approved.  Also, since the physician is receiving money for their prescriptions then can their judgment be truly trusted that they are doing what’s best for the patient in terms of the prescription or are they doing what’s best for their pockets.  Anyone has to admit even if it doesn’t alter medical judgment, it certainly clouds it to the point where the conduct is tainting.  Of course, for even this type of very actionable whistleblower claim to be viable, there must be government money involved like Medicare or Medicaid.”

Question: “You keep emphasizing Medicare Fraud and Medicaid Fraud, but you don’t seem to mention defrauding private insurance, why not?”

Jason T. Brown: “The Federal False Claims Act only deals with government money, so Medicare Fraud is addressed, Medicaid Fraud, is addressed since it flows through the states and the feds, but private insurance is generally not included with some exceptions.  If it’s a private insurance Advantage plan that has government money it may be actionable.  Also, states like California and Illinois have mechanisms to address private insurance fraud, but they are very complicated to work through, especially in Illinois where the defrauded private insurance company doesn’t always help to end the fraud against itself, but that’s a topic for another day.”

Question: “Will a whistleblower’s identity be known or can a whistleblower stay anonymous?”

Jason T. Brown: “Although a False Claims Act is filed under seal where the defendant doesn’t learn about the identity of the whistleblower for a considerable period of time at some point in most jurisdictions the identity will be revealed when it becomes unsealed.  Some jurisdictions close it out under seal and the Defendant never finds out, but don’t ever count on that.  Also, some people try to file a John Doe whistleblower complaint or Jane Doe it or use a corporation, but we strongly disfavor that approach.  With the SEC whistleblower programs there’s a mechanism to stay anonymous from start to finish if you use an SEC Whistleblower lawyer.”

Question: “What’s in it for the whistleblower?”

Jason T. Brown: “Whistleblowers are amazingly courageous people who put it all on the line to do the right thing.  In addition to the honor on cutting down taxpayer fraud and holding bad actors accountable for their conduct, the statutes provide for some meaningful whistleblower awards.  Under the False Claims Act itself the whistleblower can potentially receive up to 30% of what the government recovers and when you consider the billions of dollars recovered each year, there’s hundreds of millions of dollars of whistleblower awards that potentially a case can trigger.  Realistically, the government whistleblower awards trend around 20% of what the government recovers if they intervene, more if they don’t.  But it’s a tradeoff, since the average value of an intervened case is significantly higher.”

Question: “Who should a whistleblower call first if they have a case?”

Jason T. Brown: “Well, if the whistleblower wants someone if their corner from the beginning, they should contact a whistleblower law firm that dedicates a portion of its practice to qui tam law.  Oftentimes, well intentioned people come to us after they’ve already blown the whistle to the feds, and they’ll do a great job trying to stop the fraud, but there’s no mechanism under the False Claims Act to pay the whistleblower if they’ve exclusively taken that route.  If you’re a whistleblower and need a free, confidential consultation about your rights, you can always call our whistleblower law firm at (877) 561-0000 to discuss your options.”

THE WHIPP: Whistleblower Information & Protection Podcast


Season 1, Episode 1  (6/9/19)

THE WHIPP
Whistleblower Information & Protection Podcast
Season 1, Episode 1 Transcript (6/9/19)

Welcome to the first podcast of the WHIPP, the whistleblower information and protection podcasts. This
is brought to you by Brown LLC. Brown LLC is a law firm led by me, former FBI Special Agent and Legal
Advisor Jason T. Brown. Our firm handles whistleblower matters all over the country in conjunction with
local counsel and we’re only paid if we win your case. Past results don’t guarantee future success and
nothing said here in should be construed as legal advice that you can rely on. So if you have a question
about your rights as a whistle blower, you should definitely speak with a whistleblower law firm who
offers free consultations like our firm by calling (877) 561-0000. For the first episode of WHIPP, we will
get into the five most commonly asked questions by whistle blowers.
1. Question number one, “How much money is in it for me?”
Well first let’s break down what it means to be a whistle blower. To be a whistle blower. You are
essentially blowing the whistle on illegal conduct within the confines of a company by an individual or
some other entity. For you to succeed in this area of law, generally, it should not just be about the
money, it has to be about a principle. It has to be about doing what’s right, but notwithstanding that at
the end of the day you don’t get apologies from companies. You don’t get them to admit that they’re
wrong. The apology is them paying some degree of money. So what is in it for you? A percentage of
what the government recovers. Most type of whistle blower actions nowadays are thought to be
brought under something called the False Claims Act (FCA). In the false claims act, also known as the
Lincoln Law, when the government is defrauded, generally a Medicare or Medicaid program, the
whistleblower who is unearthing the fraud for the federal government to learn about it is entitled to up
to 25% of what the government recovers.
Generally it will be less than that. 25% 25% is the high end. 20% is the medium ground and generally
between 15 and 20 is where you can expect if the government takes us large role, but that’s not all a
bad thing. There’s a process and a very definitive type of process that’s involved in determining whether
or not cases are viable in the whistleblower world. First of all, a complaint must be filed under seal.
While it’s under seal where the defendant does not know about it, the government has an opportunity
to evaluate your case. In evaluating the case, it can decide whether to intervene, meaning get involved
in the case directly or to pass on the case, not intervene. If it intervenes, generally you will get less
percentage wise, but it could mean more money for you as the whistle blower, also known as a relator.
Why is it more money? Because statistics show that the average value of an intervened case is roughly
$13 million a non-intervened case is $3 million. Now that assumes that the case is viable at all because
most cases flameout along some sort of the way. So basically, you can get paid an awful lot of money for
doing the right thing, although nothing is ever guaranteed.
2. Question number two that whistleblowers ask is, “How long will it take?”
Good things come to those who wait but not to those who wait too late. And whistleblower litigation
can take a long, long, long, long, long, long time. Now if that was a lot of longs and you’re impatient
about what’s coming next, this may not be the right type of case for you to file. Cause for as many longs
as I said, which may have been six or seven, some cases last more than that. In terms of years, why does
it take so long? Well like we just mentioned, the government has an opportunity to investigate the
matter while it’s under seal. And while some terrific things come from these cases based upon the
government investigations, the government is always triaging and what do I mean by that? This is an
important thing for the government to cut down on government fraud and certain things are prioritized.
For example, right now opioid cases and opioid litigation is prioritized. So whistle blowers who know
about pain pills or kickbacks in exchange for a certain, opioid type of medication. Those cases may get
to the top of the pile cases in which there are a harm to patients are going to be prioritized by cases
purely about economic harm, always seem to find their selves in the middle and go to the bottom of the
pile in deference to those other important matters. So while the government’s investigating, it can take
several years. Now hopefully at the end there is a rainbow and there’s a pot of gold in terms of the
government taking its time, meaning that it’s more inclined than not to intervene or take action in the
case. But unfortunately there’s no rule that governs or makes that to be case. So this can take a long
time from our experience. Some of the shortest periods of time have been roughly about a year and
that’s when you have a very clean type of violation, very crisp information from the relater slash whistle
blower and you have a motivated, a AUSA Assistant United States Attorney working the case. So there’s
no guarantee how long a case can potentially take. It could and most likely will take years. If it’s a bigger
case, there’s a possibility for one year on the short end, but don’t count on that at all. I would expect
anywhere between two and three years for most whistleblower litigation’s and that may be on the short
end.
3. Question number three, “Will my identity as a whistle blower be known?”
The answer is most likely yes. At some point under the false claims act though, you have time before the
defendant or the wrongdoer finds out about your identity. The case is filed under seal, which means it’s
confidentially filed without serving the defendant a copy of the complaint. Most litigations upon filing,
there’s a public record and you have to serve the defendant with the copy, not under the false claims
act, the exact opposite. The court seals the docket, so only those in the know can know and see the
docket and you are not supposed to serve the company. This is an important point. If is a lawyer
listening in about commencing the action because if you commenced the action wrong, you may destroy
it right from its inception. The identity of the whistleblower is generally put into the complaint.
From our experience, we generally only take cases in which under the False Claims Act, in which the
person is willing to go forward with their real identity. If the individual cannot commit to putting their
real name to it bad things have happened historically to the different cases. Now, some people have
tried to file these anonymously. They’ve tried to file them through the use of dummy corporations. Both
techniques can be used. We strongly disfavor them at our firm for a variety of reasons, but we’re open
to listening for certain circumstances about the pros and cons and have a discussion about doing that.
To drop a footnote, there are other types of a whistle blower actions such as an sec whistleblower
action where potentially you can be anonymous from start to finish with the use of an attorney. But
under the false claims act, generally after the government is done evaluating the case in determining
whether or not it wants to intervene, at some point the case will become unsealed and your identity will
be known.
4. Question number four and five are somewhat interrelated, four “Will I suffer from retaliation ?”
and five, “How am I protected?”
Well, under the statute there’s a strident mechanism for protecting whistle blowers. Generally it’s called
an H claim for retaliation against a whistle blower, but of course since the matter is under seal, how do
they know that you’re a whistle blower and are you engaged in a protected activity? This gets to be very
complicated fact specific analysis type of inquiry. I strongly suggest that on the front end, before you
take any action, even educating the company regarding its own wrongdoing, you consult with counsel
first. We want to blow the whistle the right way. Often Times, if you’re trying to report in the company’s
internal, reporting mechanisms, well sometimes that’s a one way door to get fired. It shouldn’t be, but it
is. You need to understand what your rights are before you complained to the company and what your
options are, what your parachute is, which may be an old expression, but what your exit strategy is from
the company.
That’s why if you file a case of false claims act under seal, you have time to work through your strategy
about what your exit will or might be. If you want to leave the company and if the company’s engaged in
very, very bad conduct, you might want to start thinking about getting out of there anyway. Why is that?
Because some of this conduct under the false claims is not just civil penalties but could be criminal and
you certainly don’t want to be wrapped up in something along those lines. So once your identity is
disclosed to the defendant, technically under the law, they may not retaliate against you. Functionally,
they might. It may happen for a variety of reasons. They will want you out the door. They may pay you
handsomely to get out the door or they may find some sort of pretext to fire you. You need to go over
this, you need to go over this with the attorney and you need to have a candid conversation about this.
Those were the top five questions asked by whistle blowers, but ironically one of the most important
questions is not often asked. People assume and the question is, “Do I qualify as a whistleblower?” That
question will be answered in our next exciting episode, this was our first episode of WHIPP, the
Whistleblower Information and Protection Podcast. We look forward to receiving your feedback, your
questions or your comments. Please. If you’re a potential whistleblower, do not leave any of those
things public contact us directly. Blowing the whistle is a very serious matter and if you’re thinking of
blowing the whistle, you should consult with a whistleblower law firm that focuses on this particular
area of law. Our firm would be happy to speak with you. We do offer free consultations, (877) 561-0000
but even if you don’t consult with our firm, look around and consult with a firm that really has a focus of
its practice on whistle blower litigation. Thank you and have a great day.

 


Now, This Might Hurt a Little: Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Practice Pays $790,000 to Settle False Claims Act Lawsuit

Brown, LLC Whistleblower awarded $142,200.

Whistleblower law firm Brown, LLC continued with its streak of victories with its whistleblower lawsuits by obtaining a $142,200 whistleblower award for an individual who blew the whistle on a alleged variety of fraud on Medicare and Tricare. With the assistance of the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina, Brown LLC was able to help an honest and diligent whistleblower put an end to the fraudulent billing of government health insurances by a Therapy and Sports Medicine, Inc. practice headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina.

The whistleblower alleged that the practice where she had previously worked as a receptionist and scheduler, had knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare and TRICARE for one-on-one therapy services when in reality those services were provided to patients on a group basis. The whistleblower also alleged that the practice had knowingly submitted claims for services provided by unsupervised assistants, and claims for attended electrical stimulation services that were actually unattended. These schemes enabled the practice to receive higher reimbursements than it deserved, thereby cheating the government and the taxpayer.

The relator, which is the term used for a plaintiff who brings a qui tam action under the False Claims Act (FCA) was able to establish the case through very little documentary evidence, but a very detailed, credible host of allegations regarding the Medicare Fraud.  Brown, LLC worked with the Plaintiff to draft a successful False Claims Act lawsuit and following the procedure set forth in the FCA by filing the matter under seal, conducting a relator interview and ultimately assisting the United States government in crafting a whistleblower settlement.

This settlement illustrates an important point: even whistleblower cases where there’s not a substantial amount of money at stake or not a lot of documents can still reap sizable benefits, both for the public and the whistleblower and help hold companies accountable.

As the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina said in announcing the settlement,

“Medical billing fraud drives up the cost of healthcare and diverts critical resources from federal healthcare programs. Whistleblower suits, like this one, are one of the government’s most effective tools at detecting fraud and protecting the integrity of our burdened healthcare system.”

If you’re aware of fraud upon Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, or any other government program, please contact the whistleblower lawyers at Brown, LLC who offer free whistleblower consultations by calling (877) 561-0000 or emailing fightfraud@jtblawgroup.com. You can read more about Brown LLC’s whistleblower achievements by clicking here. 

Going Green Doesn’t Always Mean Keeping Green – Renewable Energy Program False Claims Act Settlement

Various entities must pay $2.6 million to resolve False Claims Act (FCA) violations alleging the received reimbursements for programs and costs they did not incur. The False Claims Act allows private individuals (referred to as relators) to bring actions against entities who defraud the United States government and shares with the victorious a portion of the recovery which is known as a whistleblower award.

Congress’s well-intentioned Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 incentivized corporations to enable “renewable energy properties,” with government reimbursement up to 30% for certain projects.  Where there is money available for a good thing, however, there are always people and companies ready to wear the badge of goodness and exploit it for their own economic gain.

The allegations of the United States are that a company known as Eagle Valley applied for the bio-friendly program for reimbursement for its investment in one of its non-green actual physical plants.  The application indicated that Eagle Valley agreed with Evergreen to perform certain types of services. Evergreen was incentivized on a percentage basis for the cost of building the plant.

Without using the actual numbers to illustrate what occurred, assuming Eagle Valley put in for $10 million dollars of reimbursement from the federal government, Eagle Valley told the government that $3.3 million of those monies would go to Evergreen. The United States taxpayers through the federal government paid Eagle Valley, but Eagle Valley never paid Evergreen and Evergreen never sought payment. It is unclear what led to those circumstances, but what is clear is that after Eagle Valley received funds that were designated to go elsewhere, they were not entitled to keep those funds after the earmarked company was not paid and was not going to be paid.

Former FBI Special Agent Jason T. Brown    and head of Brown, LLC (a law firm that focuses on protecting whistleblowers ) indicated:

“Once again this was great work on behalf of the federal government holding those accountable who have allegedly ripped off the taxpayer.  Every year there’s billions of dollars of fraud and through the False Claims Act whistleblowers can help the taxpayer recoup its losses while receiving a whistleblower award for their cooperation.” 

 

Although this case was not handled by Brown, LLC, Mr. Brown’s whistleblower law firm remains active and vigilant in protections whistleblowers and prosecuting whistleblower lawsuits nationwide. The firm offers free whistleblower consultations by calling (877) 561-0000 or emailing fightfraud@jtblawgroup.  Brown, LLC is a private firm and although it works cooperatively with the federal government, is not part of the federal government.

 

The Secrets of the Best Whistleblower Lawyer(s) – Part 1

Who is the best whistleblower lawyer near me?  Still a common question, with a complicated answer.  One needs to delve into what area of whistleblower lawyer one needs.

The most common and successful whistleblower actions in recent years involve the False Claims Act, which used to be known as the Lincoln Law.  The False Claims Act (“FCA”) is implicated when the whistleblower also known as the relator knows of companies, doctors, medical facilities, defense contractors or others who have and/or are defrauding the federal government, which in turn is defrauding you, the taxpayer.  The FCA has aggressive penalties which include triple damages, and relator awards can obtain up to 30% of the government’s recovery which can result in a substantial whistleblower award.

Whistleblower awards are evaluated based on a multitude of factors, such as how cooperative and forthcoming you’ve been, whether you profited from the fraud, how long you knew of the fraud before blowing the whistle to name a few.  Mathematically, if you know about a Million Dollar False Claims Act, and the fraudster is solvent enough, they can be hit with a 3-million-dollar verdict.  If the government intervenes in all likelihood your percentage as a whistleblower award will only go as high as 25%, but in all likelihood 20% or less, which in this example still could result in a $600,000 whistleblower award, which is not bad for doing the right thing.  Consider that when the government intervenes the average settlement is around 12 million dollars, 20% of that could result in  2.4 million dollar whistleblower award.   Of course, results vary depending on what your actual case is.

Qui tam litigation is not for general practice lawyers, it is a highly specialized area of law that requires interfacing with the Federal Government in secrecy and making sure you keep that secret.  Most firms that practice and are accomplished whistleblower law firms have former FBI Special Agents (like our firm Brown, LLC), or United States Attorneys or both on their staff to navigate the landscape.

The bulk of the cases seem to focus on Medicare Fraud, and Medicaid Fraud, but a savvy firm can try to maximize your case if it possibly implicates states statutes that provide for additional forms of discovery like the Illinois, California and New York statutes.

If you’re looking for a Chicago Whistleblower lawyer, it’s important that they are familiar with both the state and federal whistleblower laws, similarly a New York Whistleblower lawyer should know whether they can obtain further mileage out of the New York Qui Tam statute.

Outside of the False Claims Act, the other statutes that have resulted in big settlements for whistleblowers include the SEC whistleblower laws, the CFTC whistleblower laws and the IRS whistleblower laws, along with a swath of state whistleblower laws and various other sneaky statutes that may be implicated.

Since whistleblower cases are shrouded in secrecy, firms don’t always tout their accomplishments, then again others do.  A fair question to ask a firm you’re considering is if they’re handling a case similar to the fact pattern you present or how they will handle the case you present in terms of where they’re filing, and whether its even worth filing at all?

There are many secrets of top whistleblower lawyers, but the best way to learn them and to find out if you have a case is to speak with a whistleblower law firm, like Brown, LLC (877) 561-0000 who can offer you a free, confidential whistleblower consultation.