Building a Whistleblower Case

Building a whistleblower case is interesting. And it’s interesting because even though the False Claims Act is similar across most cases the facts are always a little different even within specific industries. Take Healthcare for example; the majority of False Claims Act cases are in that field but healthcare is a pretty wide area and you end up learning a great deal.

It can be frustrating because the amount of facts that you have to learn and work with your client is a lot and of course nothing in any type of legal proceeding goes as fast as anyone would like and that can be a frustration. Mostly it’s very interesting work and very exciting work and I’m happy to say I represent whistleblowers under False Claims Act. I sleep at night knowing that my clients are all ones that are trying to do the right thing.

What to Expect When Building a Whistleblower Case

Building a Whistle Blower Case
I think they should expect to have to go through their memory and really think very, very hard about everything that they know about the case. I think they should expect that they’re going to spend a fair amount of time re-living whatever they submit to the government and to discuss whatever they submit to the government with the government officials. They should expect to have to be quiet about it for some period of time and also that it will take some time to resolve their case hopefully favorably. But other than that, I think most whistleblowers are pretty willing to go through it because I think they’re committed to reporting what they see is wrongful activity and most whistleblowers will take it very seriously and understand that it is a serious process.

Factors for Making a Viable Fraud Claim

There are a lot of technical requirements under the False Claims Act, but the client and the lawyer should always keep their mind on whether or not there is visceral fraud and how the government has been defrauded. If you can explain that, then you probably have a strong case, or at least a case that I’m going to think about a lot… Usually, if there’s a visceral fraud, it’s also going to violate lots of little regulations along the way, and that’s really what you want to know – you want to know that the government flat out lost something, something that mattered.

In addition, anytime there’s some inference of a safety issue, whether it’s in the health care field or any other field, if something is defective, people’s lives could be endangered. If there’s any type of inference that the false claims involved or the defect involved with the product threatens public safety in any way, that’s also a factor that’s worth considering. The False Claims Act doesn’t exist to protect the government against somebody doing their job poorly or negligence or weak contract cases; the False Claims Act is about the government being the victim of contractors who knowingly are trying to make money at the expense of what they’re supposed to be doing, and it’s pretty obvious. A good False Claims Act case is an obvious fraud.

The Attorney-Client Relationship in Whistleblower Cases

One of the fun things about being a lawyer in this field is there are all kinds of law out there to do and in many kinds of law you do your job and you go home and you don’t necessarily develop much of a relationship with your clients. Whistleblower laws are tricky. They take a long time, and they involve very, very serious matters as far as your client is concerned and you hopefully end up developing some level of trust and relationship with your client. Most whistleblowers are very interesting people and that can be rewarding.

Investigations When Building a Whistleblower Case

At the initial stage you investigate and review everything you can that the whistleblower has to tell you about the case or show you about the case. Then the government does its investigation and they may do a very extensive investigation or there may not be that much to investigate and then if the case goes forward into litigation obviously that would create a whole new round of investigation. So it can be quite a lot of time.

Myths About Building a Whistleblower Case

I think the myths that I see that frustrate me are the attempts by various groups to demonize whistleblowers and to attack their motives for coming forward. I would say that that’s really a terrible myth and ultimately irrelevant to the importance of the case. I think the point of most of these laws is to reward the act of whistleblowing and that does not mean that the whistleblower needs to be in the rest of their lives necessarily a saint. It means that the information that the whistleblower has is valuable and is important to the government. Everybody needs to just sort of take a deep breath and realize wait a minute what is this person telling us. Not who is this person, what is this person telling us.

Ultimately the lawyer and the whistleblower are all just a mechanism by which the government can find out something very, very important about what’s going on that they otherwise would not find anything out about. That’s really the issue here, and that issue gets clouded by attempts to make whistleblowers into bad people or anything else. The truth is what matters isn’t so much the word whistleblower it’s the underlying information that otherwise government would never know about that involves a serious matter of fraud or serious health and safety violations and we all need to know about that a lot more than we need to know about anything else.