A whistleblower can receive an award for any case pursued by the government, any civil action where they obtain the money through the False Claims Act with their own case, or through an alternative remedy to the False Claims Act case. The whistleblower has the same rights they have under their own False Claims Act case and may obtain an award.
Under the False Claims Act, if the whistleblower has a legitimate case and is the person who filed the suit, and it is a civil action being pursued by the government, the whistleblower is entitled to a 15% to 25% percent award if the government intervened in the case. The whistleblower is entitled to a 25% to 30% award if the government did not intervene in the case. The whistleblower collects the award when the government collects. If a whistleblower is disqualified from being a whistleblower, they do not collect. A whistleblower who was found to be involved in planning and initiating a fraud may have their reward reduced.
If you have any questions regarding the whistleblower reward process, reach out to an experienced lawyer. A well-versed attorney who is knowledgeable about whistleblower rewards could assist your situation.
Determining the Percentage of the Reward
When the government intervenes in the action and takes over prosecution, the range of the award is between 15% and 25% according to the statute. If the government does not go forward to take over the case, the whistleblower is entitled to a 25% to 30% percent share under federal law. Some states have their own False Claims Act and a few of those have different percentages with respect to awards under their own state statutes.
Theoretically, justice department factors are reviewed to make a determination of what is considered to be an appropriate award. The relator can oppose those and attempt to litigate before a court as to why they feel they are entitled to a higher reward. Most whistleblower rewards are determined in terms of percentage through negotiations between counsel and the government within the prescribed ranges.
Defining Covered Action
A covered action does not refer to the False Claims Act. It refers to the Security and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission whistleblower programs. Under those programs, one files a form in the appropriate commission. If those commissions are successful in obtaining some amount of money on behalf of the government, as soon as they receive more than $1,000,000, they are supposed to post the information about the award on their website. This part of the whistleblower reward process is known as a covered action. The whistleblower has 90 days to submit a form attempting to claim their right to obtain an award under those programs.
What is a Related Action?
Under the False Claims Act and under the SEC and CFTC whistleblower programs, it is entirely possible that the government may take the information provided by the whistleblower and pursue it in some means not contemplated initially by the court filing or the filing of either of those programs. Another government agency may take action and an administrative action may occur. Under those circumstances, a related action should provide the whistleblower with the same rights they would have had the government pursued directly through the SEC and CFTC in the case of those programs, or in court through the False Claims Act case.
Benefits of a Lawyer During the Whistleblower Reward Process
There are now four main whistleblower avenues that provide potential awards to a whistleblower. There is potentially a fifth and sixth through the National Highway Transportation Safety Act and one under the Endangered Species Act. There are now many different laws that whistleblowers may consider when obtaining an award. Knowing all the potential options to provide a case to the government to pursue is worth considering at outset.
There is little downside in contacting counsel in these areas. Almost everyone pursues these cases on a contingency basis, so it is easy to determine early in the process whether a whistleblower’s allegations have a chance of obtaining an award and identifying the process for pursuing any of these cases.
The process is lengthy and usually requires some level of discourse back and forth with the government to pursue the allegations. When initiating an action to obtain an award, whistleblowers are best served by having counsel pursue it. In some programs like the SEC Whistleblower Program and the CFTC Whistleblower Program, when a whistleblower wants to file an initial action anonymously, they can only do that and maintain their potential ability to obtain an award from counsel. Some courts disfavor filings under the False Claims Act, so there may be a requirement in some of these programs to have an attorney. Call today for more information about the whistleblower reward process.