Do you suspect fraud against the United States government? Contact our Columbia whistleblower lawsuit attorneys. Shealey Law Firm can help you evaluate the situation and take the appropriate steps.
People who report fraud against the government may receive a reward, and they may hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions. We are experienced litigators, and we are not afraid to take tough cases. Contact Shealey Law Firm in Columbia for a free and confidential consultation with our whistleblower attorneys.
Whistleblower Lawsuits – Fraud Against the Government Lawsuits
Many corporations do business with the United States government. Too often, these businesses try and pad their bottom line. They may submit fraudulent billing. They may fail to provide services they claim are rendered or they may fail to follow the terms of their contract.
Whistleblower lawsuits allow people to stand up to fraud against the taxpayers – and get rewarded.
The government relies on whistleblowers to stop fraud of taxpayer dollars. In 2019, whistleblowers brought 71% of all claims regarding fraud. False Claims Act claims resulted in $2.2 billion in recoveries for the fiscal year 2022.
How Do Whistleblower Lawsuits Work?
Whistleblower lawsuits are a way for people with knowledge to report fraud against the government.
Here’s how they work:
- A company does business with the United States government.
- A person knows that the company is being dishonest in their dealings with the government.
- The person brings a lawsuit on behalf of the government. The government can join the lawsuit, but they don’t have to.
- If successful, the company pays damages and penalties.
- The whistleblower receives a reward, which is typically a percentage of the damages.
If you are aware of government fraud, you can bring a lawsuit. You may receive a reward for coming forward. Most claims fall under the False Claims Act. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the IRS also have whistleblower programs.
The False Claims Act
The False Claims Act is 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733. It was passed in 1863 in response to defense contractor fraud during the Civil War. The law says that knowingly submitting a false claim to the government makes a party liable for a civil penalty and damages of three times the amount of loss to the government. Amendments in 1986 and 2009 added additional accountability, allowing liability for deliberate ignorance and reckless disregard of the truth.
Types of False Claims Act Claims
The False Claims Act prohibits:
- False billing, billing for services not rendered
- Buying government property from someone not authorized to sell it
- False records to avoid payment to the government
- Making false statements relating to a claim
- Certifying receipt of property without knowledge
- Conspiracy to defraud the government
Most False Claims Act cases fall into one of several categories:
- Healthcare fraud, including Medicare and Medicaid
- Government contractor fraud
- Defense contractor fraud
- Environmental fraud including tax credits, poor materials or dishonest billing
Examples of False Claims Act Claims
- Delta Airlines, Air France and KLM Airlines each had contracts with the U.S. Postal Service for international mail delivery. They paid millions to resolve allegations of false reporting of delivery performance.
- Gold Coast Health Plan paid $70.7 million regarding false Medicaid claims. Allegations included claims for expenses that were not allowed per contract, duplicative charges and charges that exceeded fair market value.
- American Health Foundation resolved a claim of substandard provision of nursing services, inadequate staffing levels and not taking appropriate measures for infection control.
- Radeas LLC paid $11.6 million regarding allegations of unnecessary drug testing billed to Medicare.
- Honeywell International, Inc. paid $3.35 million after allegations of selling defective material for law enforcement bullet proof vests.
- Prosperity Bank paid $18,673 after allegedly extending a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to an applicant that it knew was ineligible because of pending criminal charges.
Procedural requirements for filing a whistleblower lawsuit
A claim under the False Claims Act has some unique procedural requirements. The complaint must be filed under seal and served on the government. The complainant must provide a detailed disclosure statement for the government, summarizing the facts of the case. The Untied States government can join the case, which is called intervening. The whistleblower can still pursue the claim if the government decides not to join.
Our whistleblower lawsuit attorneys can assist you with the steps in preparing and submitting a whistleblower lawsuit claim.
South Carolina Employment Protection for Reports of Violations
South Carolina Code § 8-27-20 protects public employees who report wrongdoing. A public body may not dismiss, suspend from employment, or demote or decrease compensation for an employee who files a good faith report of wrongdoing.
Wrongdoing may include:
- Substantial abuse
- Misuse of public funds and resources
- Loss of substantial public funds or resources
- Intentional violations of statutes or regulations including ethical regulations not technical in nature
If a report ends up saving the public money, the person complaining receives 25% of the savings in the first year, up to $2,000, as a reward.
Whistleblower Lawsuit FAQs
What percent reward does a whistleblower get for a successful lawsuit?
A whistleblower may receive a reward of 15-30% for a successful case. There is no cap, and the percentage claimed depends on the extent to which the whistleblower contributed to the case.
What does qui tam mean?
Qui tam is a Latin term for someone who sues on behalf of the king. In a whistleblower lawsuit, the qui tam plaintiff stands in place of the government, alleging fraud on behalf of taxpayers.
Does a person who was involved in the fraud and then becomes a whistleblower get a reward?
No. If the whistleblower is prosecuted and convicted for fraud relating to the case, they do not receive a reward.
Free Consultation with a Whistleblower Lawsuit Attorney
If you are concerned about a company’s behavior, or if you are ready to move forward with a whistleblower lawsuit, we invite you to contact our offices. Talk to a whistleblower lawsuit attorney in Columbia, SC at Shealey Law Firm. See what’s involved in bringing a case and how our representation can assist you.
Call or message us now to start your case.