How Do You Get Started on a Whistleblower Case?

You get started usually when a client calls and has a problem. Either the client will call a whistleblower lawyer because they’ve been fired for complaining about fraud on the job, or the potential client is feeling very uncomfortable with what with they know to be a problem at work, or what looks like very  fraudulent activity.

So they want to know something. They want to know if they have a case and so they call. That’s the beginning point at which any whistleblower attorney would begin to analyze if there is any type of case to be filed, if there’s a potential action that can be had, or if there is some kind of other law that we’d refer the client out to pursue. Or, perhaps what the potential client is dealing with is a different kind of case altogether.

Usually it starts with the client coming to an attorney with the problem.

What Makes You Want to Work on Whistleblower Cases?

What makes me interested in whistleblower cases is when serious fraud is committed, because the worse the case of fraud is, the stronger the case is going to be. So it’s kind of a strange psychology in the sense that one is looking for very, very bad behavior as whistleblower attorney to see if the case will work.

Usually, if the underlying fraud is relatively easy to explain, even though it may involve a very complex industry or a very complex regulatory scheme, it comes down to somebody making a major misrepresentation to the government about what they are doing.

That is what is needed in order for there to be a liability in a whistleblower case. That’s usually first thing you want to hear, that it just has a visceral, gut-level fraudulent action. And usually when you have that, any whistleblower lawyer is going to get excited about the possibility of filing a False Claims Acts case.

What Happens if the Whistleblower Case Involves State Government Money As Well?

The law has been amended to make it much more possible to file a federal action with the state action at the same time. In the old days, you had to go and basically find a lawyer in every state to file a local state action.

There were some problems with whether or not that was an issue that interfered with the federal case. Now, under the False Claims Act as amended, there’s a provision that allows you to file essentially all the federal claims and all the state claims in one case and consolidated action in federal court.

So it’s relatively speaking, easy to do. The only thing is you still have to alert the state governments prior to filing. You still have to serve the state governments with the complaint. But you don’t need to file 20 different cases all at once if you’ve got a national action.

The lawyer files essentially one case with consolidated claims.  So it’s a lot easier for the whistleblower attorney to handle that on behalf of their clients now than in the past.