What Can You Do to Strengthen Your False Claims Act Case?
November 16th, 2020
If you suspect that your employer or some other entity is committing fraud against the government, here are some things you can do to increase your chances of bringing a successful False Claims Act case.
1. Act quickly
Quick action serves the important purpose of stopping the fraud and the harm it is causing. In addition, every legal claim has a corresponding limitations period within which to pursue a claim. Those time limits vary depending on the law and the circumstances. If you wait too long, you may lose your right to bring a whistleblower case.
2. Retain and work with an experienced attorney
You must be represented by counsel to bring a False Claims Act case, and in any event, having an experienced attorney is crucial to the success of your case. It is also affordable. Halunen Law provides free consultations and represents whistleblowers on a contingency basis, which means our clients pay us a fee only if the case results in a recovery. To successfully bring a False Claims Act case, you need a law firm that knows the following: how to put your facts into a compelling narrative; how the government will evaluate and investigate your allegations; how to persuade the government your case has merit; how to help the government put together the case; and how to litigate the case on your behalf if the government decides not to. As the person best situated to provide relevant facts, your participation and cooperation in this process are vital and can impact any reward.
3. Document the fraud promptly and properly
Successful False Claims Act cases are based on evidence, not speculation, hunches, or guesswork. Documenting the fraud or misconduct is an important way to strengthen the merits of your whistleblowing and the government attention it receives. But determining how to do so—such as what documents you are permitted to take, how you may or should access them, and whether you may secretly record conversations—present tricky situations that depend on complex legal and factual considerations. If you navigate these legal traps incorrectly, you can jeopardize your case and your rights or, even worse, end up violating the law yourself.
4. Report the fraud
In many cases, reporting the fraud can strengthen a False Claims Act case. But knowing how, when, and to whom you should report depends on the situation and should be discussed with an experienced attorney. Sometimes companies have reporting procedures or policies that provide information regarding what to include and to whom you should report, such as a manager, human resources, the legal department, compliance, or even a whistleblowing helpline. Other reports may be advisable depending on the circumstances.
5. Discuss your whistleblower efforts or intentions only with your attorney
Loose lips sink ships—and whistleblower cases. Under the “first-to-file” bar, the federal False Claims Act typically limits recovery to the first person to file a lawsuit. You may also be limited or barred from recovering an award if, before you file suit, someone else publicizes or brings the fraud to the government’s attention. Similar limitations may apply under state law. In other words, if you say too much to too many people, you can jeopardize (or lose altogether) your right to bring or receive an award in a False Claims Act case.
6. Be patient
It takes time to put together a False Claims Act case and present it to the government. And then, it will likely take the government much longer to investigate your allegations, compile evidence, persuade a company to settle, or litigate a case. Delays, extensions, and other frustrations are common in False Claims Act cases. Allow the process to run its course, and do not expect a quick resolution. However, once you have provided your facts to the government in a well-constructed False Claims Act claim, you will have the immediate satisfaction of knowing that you have done what you can do to bring the illegal conduct to the government’s attention.
For all of these reasons and others, contact an experienced whistleblower attorney at Halunen Law for a free consultation as soon as you become aware of conduct that may involve fraud against the government. That first step will give you peace of mind and important advice as to next steps.
Lon Leavitt joined Halunen Law after a successful 12-year tenure as an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Arizona, one of the largest and busiest federal districts in the country. In that role, he managed False Claims Act investigations and litigation on behalf of the federal government in a wide range of fields, including health care, defense and education. Lon is especially knowledgeable in health care fraud enforcement, having pursued cases successfully against hospitals, hospices, physician groups, and other health care providers. Learn more about Lon Leavitt and his work at Halunen Law.