Getting to Know Tony Munter (Part 3)
In the third segment of Getting to Know Tony Munter, Mr. Munter answers questions about his approach to whistleblower cases, including the main things he looks for in a case. This is excerpted from an interview with Tony Munter Whistleblower Attorney.
What Makes Your Approach to Whistleblower Law Unique?
Tony Munter: Well, I’m not sure I would say unique. I try to work very hard with my clients to be sure that we get as much information out of our client and present it as completely as we possibly can to the government.
There’s a relatively few number of people who do this on regular basis and I think that it does come down to a relationship with your client because in these cases, it’s not a two-month process the way some other kinds of cases might be, where you are here today and gone tomorrow and a technician who is well-versed on the law could do a very good job for you.
You certainly have to have that to do False Claims Act work, but you have to be able to work with that particular client and you have to be able to—over a long period of time—be able to understand and work with that client, help them remember everything they can possibly remember. They might remember something important on a Monday and then a month later, they might remember something else that’s really important.
You have to be able to work with that client and so I really do think there’s a lot of—in addition to basic understanding of the law and basic understanding of what you’re supposed to do, it really does come down to being able to work with that client and understand what it is that that client really knows.
It isn’t always apparent the first time that you talk to a client what their case might be about. They may have much more than you thought they did when you first talked to them. You have to be able to work with them and learn everything that you can about their case.
What are Some Questions You Ask People Who May Have a Whistleblower Case?
Tony Munter: Well, I think the first question that I usually ask is whether or not the government has an interest, any type of governmental money or interest in the case and the reason that’s important is that quite often, people see information about whistleblower laws and there are a lot of different whistleblower laws, but if there’s an interest that you can define involving government money of some kind, that gets you the possibility, at least, of filing a False Claims Act case.
If it’s federal government money or in some cases you might have a state False Claims Act case, I actually think that the False Claims Act is probably the strongest whistleblower law. It certainly provides rewards to the whistleblower so I like to see if there’s a government interest right away and quite often, whistleblowers aren’t concerned about that initially.
They’re upset that they might have gotten fired. They’re upset when they see some wrongdoing so they’re not necessarily thinking about, “Gee, is there a harm to the government?” right away. That usually tends to be the question I ask first even if it isn’t the first thing on the mind of the client when they call me.