Every year businesses and individuals make fraudulent claims that cost state and federal governments billions of dollars. If you are aware of false claims made to government agencies, Morgan & Morgan helps you present evidence and preserve your right to compensation if the government uncovers wrongdoing.
Serving clients in Tampa and the Southeastern United States, our attorneys have decades of experience with whistleblower actions and the retaliation that sometimes follows. We work with you to procedurally ensure your claim is filed correctly, and your rights are protected.
What are Whistleblower Lawsuits?
Taking unfair profit from the government through fraud is not new. The federal False Claims Act was enacted after President Abraham Lincoln advocated passage of legislation that stopped companies from being paid good money for swindling the government with poor quality goods.
- Health care
- Social security
- Environmental safety
- Loans and grants
- Government contracting
- Customs and shipping
- Postal Service
- General Services Administration (GSA)
A whistleblower lawsuit is also known as a qui tam case. The term qui tam roughly means the action is brought by a person on behalf of a state or federal agency or government. The authority to bring a qui tam lawsuit—a whistleblower action—is written into the False Claims Act.
When you file a whistleblower lawsuit, the case is placed under seal, while the government investigates your information and evidence. An individual who files a qui tam action is called a relator.
If the government decides to intervene in the matter and prevails, you, as the relator, may be eligible for between 15 to 25 percent of the settlement or verdict.
If the government investigates and decides not to intervene, you may still proceed with qui tam litigation, and are eligible for a higher percentage of a settlement or award if you prevail.
Whistleblower actions provide monetary incentive to private citizens to tell what they know or observe, about fraud being perpetrated on the government.
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice (JOD) recovered more than $3.8 billion in fraudulent claim settlements and verdicts. That same year, more than 600 qui tam lawsuits were filed, paying out $597 million in awards to whistleblowers.
How to File Qui Tam Case
To file a qui tam case, a whistleblower must have original knowledge, information, or evidence about actions like overbilling, misuse of funds, fraudulent services, and other abuses.
Some key points to consider include:
Information you hear, or read, in the media or from another public source does not usually constitute valid basis for whistleblower litigation. The purpose of a qui tam action in Florida is to help the government detect and correct a fraud with the help of individuals who have direct, valuable access to the source of the fraud.
Information made public earlier, in a legislative, legal, or media setting, does not usually qualify for a whistleblower action unless the relator was the original source of the information.
If an earlier whistleblower action has been filed with clearly similar information, a second qui tam lawsuit on the same event is prohibited from going forward under a first-to-file rule. The first-to-file rule is often used by defendants to bar whistleblower claims.
Our qui tam lawyers offer experienced legal advice on the validity of a potential legal action, and your best options to proceed.
What is Whistleblower Retaliation?
In Florida, after a whistleblower action is filed, and under investigation by state or federal agencies, the defendant is usually not aware that an action is filed, or who filed it. After a period of time, the company or organization eventually learns who filed the case.
It is common for whistleblowers to suffer retaliation in the workplace when whistleblower information comes to light. The False Claim Act protects you from being fired, demoted, harassed, or suffering discrimination when your participation in a qui tam action becomes known.
Across industry, tax dollars are siphoned away from Florida state and federal agencies each year by companies making false claims, or engaging in fraudulent activities.
If you work with, or for, an organization making false claims, note that making a whistleblower claim is an important action to take on the part of all taxpayers, and there is significant financial incentive to do so.
Qui tam actions are complicated and may take several years to work through the investigative and legal process—it is a personal choice and challenge to proceed with a whistleblower action.
With the resources of a national law firm, the Tampa qui tam attorneys at Morgan & Morgan can deliver excellent legal representation and aggressive protection of your rights as your case proceeds.
Contact an Experienced Whistleblower Law Firm in Tampa Today
If you have questions about a whistleblower lawsuit, the Tampa attorneys at Morgan & Morgan can help. Contact us for a free case evaluation or call us today at (813) 223-5505.