False Claims Act Attorney

The False Claims Act is based on a very simple idea dedicated to the fight against fraud in the United States.

The idea is based on the simple premise of providing financial incentives and helping the people with information about fraud committed against the government to spur those people to come forward and report that fraud.  Though this is a simple concept, it is successfully applied to the most complex of cases. It is also the most effective way to fight fraud against the government yet devised by Congress, so it benefits not only the whistleblower, or the person with the information, but the government and everyone who resides in the United States.

While no DC False Claims Act lawyer can guarantee success in any matter — far from it — at least when we pursue a case of fraud against the government through the False Claims Act, we know we are providing our clients the right course of action, both for them personally and for the country, to help fight the fraud.

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Hi, my name is Tony Munter, and I am an attorney who has worked on whistleblower law and filing cases under the Federal False Claims Act for almost 10 years now. So I guess the question is, “What is the Federal False Claims Act?” Well, it is an extremely powerful law. If you want to look it up, it is at 31 U.S.C. Section 3729 through Section 3733. I say it is powerful, so why is it powerful? Well, it is powerful because you are working with the government. The government will investigate your claims.

First, you file a case and the government investigates it. If they corroborate your allegations, they may even join the prosecution with you. That’s an extremely powerful tool. Now it is not just you against some former employer or you against some huge corporation alone, it is you and the government. The statistics on this are clear. If the government joins your case, your chances of winning skyrocket. You are still entitled to a recovery of between 15-25 percent if the government joins your case, so working with the government with this law is extremely valuable to you and that is what we try to do. We try to convince the government to join your allegations and work with them under the Federal False Claims Act.

The thing that makes it a little tricky is that the government has to be the victim. It is the government’s money that counts, it is not your money so much, but the government has to lose money and have been damaged in some way for them to want to prosecute a case under the Federal False Claims Act. So remember, you want to use this powerful law. You want to work with the government.The government is not the problem. The government has to be the victim under this law, but it is a special kind of victim because it is a victim that can help you fight back.

More Information on False Claims Act

All the investigators and auditors the government can hire are ultimately dependent on the few courageous individuals who see what is going on and are willing to come forward and report wrongdoing. Without real whistleblowers who know what is happening inside an industry, the government cannot possibly know when something illegal or fraudulent is occurring.

Part of the success of the False Claims Act is that it provides financial incentives to those individuals who report fraud.  It also provides legal recourse for those who suffer retaliation as a result of any complaints or reports they made about fraudulent conduct. The FCA has some special procedural twists which can help whistleblowers while at the same time being very frustrating for DC False Claims Act lawyers and their clients. Still, it is hard to imagine a better way to pursue large fraud cases in court.

Pursuing a matter of fraud against a major government contractor (even minor government contractors are usually pretty big companies) is arduous, to say the least. It can be daunting to take on such a defendant.  Fortunately, the procedural and financial structure of the law helps whistleblowers who could not possibly go it alone in this fight. First of all, the case is filed under seal to give the government the opportunity to investigate claims.  Hopefully, the U.S. Department of Justice can corroborate the whistleblower’s claims.  When that occurs, it is no longer just the individual whistleblower facing off against some huge company.

This process, while ultimately helpful to the plaintiff and the government, can also be extraordinarily difficult to live through for those who want to fight fraud. Government investigations take a great deal of time. During that time, whistleblowers have to do something which does not come naturally at all. They must keep quiet about the case. For a whistleblower who wants to report fraud, it can be hard to live with the fact that filing the case is the action to take, and that decision means working with counsel and with the government, at least until the government decides what it will do with its investigation.

The plaintiff must keep quiet so as not to violate the Seal of the Court. For a whistleblower, who is often driven by the urge that wrongdoing should be made open to the public, the act of keeping quiet can be particularly challenging, but there is also a benefit to this requirement. At least while the investigation is being conducted, the whistleblower’s name is generally protected.

FCA Subsections and Key Terms

It is extremely rare to file a False Claims Act case that does not contain a violation of one of several of the FCA subsections. Those subsections include, but are not limited to:

There are also some key terms and concepts that should be considered in regards to the False Claims Act. Those terms include, but are not limited to:

FCA Whistleblower and Government Rewards

The potential rewards and the financial structure of the Act are also very helpful to whistleblowers.  It allows an individual to recover 15 percent to 30 percent of whatever the government recovers.  As a result, not only can a whistleblower potentially make money on a case, but it usually possible for a whistleblower to work with a False Claims Act attorney on a contingency fee basis to avoid costly legal payments and coverage until after the reward is determined.  Of course, the ability to retain counsel is crucial to a potential plaintiff. If, as is often the case, that plaintiff has already lost employment because of complaining to management about the fraud, it can be very helpful to be able to point to a potential collection and work with counsel on contingency.

Finally, the plaintiff can also sue for employment retaliation as part of a False Claims Act suit.  So the successful plaintiff may be eligible for double back pay and other damages related to their case. For all these reasons, and many others, the False Claims Act is the best way to fight fraud committed against the government.  It has proven to be effective both for the government and for whistleblowers and it is a genuine pleasure to be able to advise clients of these facts when their circumstances merit a case.

FCA whistleblower protection

Whistleblowers, the experts

The paradox is that there are huge complications in getting to the point of understanding the simple fraud. There are always complications involved in understanding how the underlying business is supposed to work, and that can make even a straightforward case of fraud difficult to explain.

That is why whistleblowers also tend to be experts in their fields. They tend not only to be the people with information about their company, but also people who know how that company is supposed to run. They tend to be the people who care whether or not the company follows safety regulations, when everyone else focused solely on cashing a paycheck.

The process of an FCA claim

While the procedural requirements of the law may not have been intended to empower whistleblowers, they can be employed to the individual’s advantage. A False Claims case must be filed under seal to give the government an opportunity to investigate claims. The investigation is generally conducted through the U.S. Department of Justice, which will also determine if the government will “join” or “intervene” in a case. Such a decision by the government means that they will take over the prosecution of the case, including the expense of litigation. It usually means success, either through settlement or judgment, and therefore a collection for the individual plaintiffs who decided to file the case. Many times the government will attempt to work out a settlement with the defendant even before making a formal decision to intervene or take over a case.

Am I protected as a whistleblower?

While the requirement to file the case under seal may not have been intended to empower whistleblowers, it does often work to protect them. At least initially, while the government investigates the allegations in a complaint, whistleblowers can avoid being exposed to retaliation. The case can go on for some time without anybody knowing who filed it. The whistleblower may have an opportunity to find new employment and move on with their career even as their allegations are being investigated.

The growing popularity of the FCA

The idea of empowering whistleblowers is spreading. There are now some 29 States, plus the District of Columbia, at least two cities, and even a few counties with their own False Claims Acts, each one modeled at least partially on the federal law. As previously noted, there are new whistleblower rewards laws created through the Dodd-Frank Act.

Hopefully, as more whistleblowers are successful using these laws to fight fraud on behalf of all of us, these cases will also bring greater respect for the brave individuals who are willing to take on that struggle. We all have a duty to support the people who are willing to stand up against the powerful forces that, all too often, put the priority of making profits above safety and honesty. That is why working for the people who seek to employ the power of the False Claims Act appropriately is an honor.

Additional resources

A few helpful False Claims Act Links:

Tony Munter in His Own Words

Below are several links to question-and-answer pages excerpted from an interview in which Tony Munter discusses different types of cases that fall under the False Claims Act.

Reviews

For client reviews and testimonials of Tony Munter, visit his review pages on Google and Yelp.