What Happens if the Government Decides to Take on a Whistleblower Case?

The following is taken from an interview with whistleblower attorney Tony Munter as he discusses what happens after the government decides to take on a whistleblower case. To learn more about whistleblowing or the False Claims Act schedule a consultation today.

If The Government Decides to Take Action on a Whistleblower Case, What Do They Do?

It’s a good thing when the government decides to take on a whistleblower case as they have a tremendous amount of resources to pursue cases. They have capable attorneys and the authority to obtain evidence that would be more difficult for an individual attorney to obtain.

Additionally, when the government takes action it makes an impression on the defendants that the Department of Justice is confronting you on your actions.

So the first thing they’ll do is try to settle their case. If the other side is not amendable to settlement, the government can go through the process of litigation and taking the case all the way to trial. So they have a lot of authority to handle a lot of the aspects of the case.

Do the Defendants Have to Pay if The Government Decides to Take Over the Whistleblower Case?

The defendant will not have to pay until they settle or lose a judgement.

While generally speaking, the government’s decision to intervene on a case indicates a high degree of a chance of success, defendants have the right to defend themselves in court. And if they prevail in court, of course, they don’t have to pay.

If they do not prevail, or if they settle, then they would have to pay. But the government’s decision to intervene in a case doesn’t mean that the defense doesn’t have rights to defend themselves against the allegations.

So If The Government Doesn’t Take Action, What Happens?

Well in reality after that, the whistleblower lawyer and their client have some very difficult decisions to make. If the client has the right to pursue a case absent support of the government then they may do that, however, the statistics are clear that success in that endeavour is much less frequent.

Also the attorney may not wish to pursue it with them. It maybe a situation where the attorney wants to go forward and the whistleblower has had enough. It’s possible to just dismiss the action, but it’s also possible to go forward.

So really if the government decides against taking action, everybody has got to sit down and figure out why the government declined the case. If you agree with the governments reason for declining the case, obviously the smart move is not to pursue it.

Most whistleblowers know enough about a case to make it a legitimate case to bring. However, there can be factors that the whistleblower isn’t aware of which makes sense, and upon the government’s investigation make it clear that the case simply would work in a False Claims Act context, and therefore you know, the smart thing to do is to walk away.

It’s obviously a painful decision if one doesn’t necessarily agree with that because the commitment and time and resources and effort to pursue a case out of seal is a major one, but it happens. And clients do purse False Claims Act cases out of seal, and sometimes it prevail. So it’s a difficult decision point for everybody involved.