Whistleblower & Qui Tam Actions

Protecting whistleblowers who bravely expose fraud and corruption

The attorneys of Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman, LLC are extremely knowledgeable about the language and application of the False Claims Act, and have a long record of success in representing whistleblowers.

The False Claims Act seeks to deter future fraud by providing for penalties of three times the amount of the fraud in addition to fines of $5,500 to $11,000 per violation. Since the Act was amended in 1986, the United States has collected more than $40 billion in fines and penalties in False Claims Act cases.

The False Claims Act, also known as qui tam action, allows people who have insider information of fraud against the government to file a suit to help stop the bad actor from defrauding the United States government. This is meant to encourage private individuals who are aware of fraud against the government to alert the government and minimize the drain on taxpayers’ funds.

If the case is either settled or a judgment is rendered against the defendant, the whistleblower is entitled to between 10 and 30 percent of the government’s recovery as an award for coming forward.

In 2017, the average award to a qui tam relator was over a million dollars, with more than $390 million being awarded to whistleblowers collectively.  Since 1986, whistleblowers have been awarded over $6 billion for their help in rooting out government fraud. Moreover, the False Claims Act prohibits employers from retaliating against whistleblowers and allows whistleblowers who are retaliated against to sue for their damages.

Fraud is costly and dangerous

Fraud against the United States can take many forms, including:

  • Submitting false invoices for payment or delivering non-conforming goods to the government under a procurement contract
  • Underreporting mineral lease royalties
  • Falsifying environmental compliance documents
  • Avoiding civil fines
  • Defrauding Medicare/Medicaid by submitting false claims
  • Off-label promotion of pharmaceutical drugs

Common Types of Government Fraud

Today, most qui tam cases are filed against healthcare providers, financial institutions, or defense contractors for submitting false or fraudulent claims to the government for reimbursement.  Qui tam cases involving healthcare fraud are the most common, and usually provide a majority of the government’s annual recovery under the FCA.  These cases restore billions of dollars to our Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE programs every year, and save those programs billions more by deterring others from committing similar frauds.

Fraudulent billing schemes are most prevalent in the medical industry and typically involve doctors, hospitals, or laboratories that (1) bill for medical services that were never performed, (2) bill for services that were not medically necessary, or (3) upcode for medical services or equipment.  These schemes are typically uncovered by doctors, nurses, accountants, administrators, or billing specialists who have first-hand knowledge of the fraud and may have been reprimanded, or even fired, for trying to expose it.

Lately, a surge of qui tam cases have also been filed for violations of the Stark Act and/or Anti-Kickback Statute, laws that generally prohibit doctors from receiving kickbacks for referring Medicare or Medicaid patients to other healthcare providers.  These cases are typically filed by physicians who have rejected similar financial arrangements, nurses who become aware of the referral scheme, or by healthcare administrators with access to physician compensation matters who, during the course of their work, discover an illegal arrangement.

RPWB, as part of its commitment to protecting the environment and seeking redress against polluters, has represented employees who have reported illegal dumping and discharging of oil and hazardous waste. Polluters who attempt to avoid civil and criminal liability by presenting false records to the government in order to conceal the violations are guilty of a “Reverse False Claim.” Government contractors and leaseholders are required to comply with environmental laws and regulations, and the False Claims Act punishes companies who chose to profit from violating those laws.

Why Whistleblowers Should Choose RPWB

The exposure of those making false claims to the government is a critical civic duty, and whistleblowers who bravely step forward deserve the best possible protection against retaliation. Those with knowledge of fraud against the government are urged to seek legal representation in order to protect their rights and to correct the wrongdoing that has been perpetrated against the taxpayers of the United States. Invariably, qui tam cases involve complex issues, are fiercely contested by deep-pocketed defendants, and require extensive discovery and costly expert testimony to prove.  So if you have witnessed government fraud at work and are considering a qui tam case, be sure to contact a law firm like RPWB that has the knowledge, experience, and financial resources that qui tam litigation demands.

RPWB is a 2019 U.S. News & World Report Best Law Firm. Many of our attorneys are on the Best Lawyers in America List and are recognized by Super Lawyers. We invite you to contact us for a free, confidential case review to discuss the fraud you have witnessed, your rights as a whistleblower and the potential financial award you can expect to receive for stepping forward.

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