Investigating a Whistleblower Case

Below, a whistleblower attorney answers questions about the investigation aspect of a whistleblower case and what lawyers should be mindful of when taking on a whistleblower case. To learn more, schedule an appointment with a DC lawyer who is well-versed in whistleblower case proceedings.

What Should Whistleblower Lawyers Understand About Investigating Cases

It is very rarely the case where a False Claims Act lawyer or whistleblower lawyer knows absolutely everything. They may know three-quarters of everything and they may know nine-tenths of everything, but big fraudulent activity usually involves many people. There can be a lot of moving parts to that. So, I think for lawyers, you have to remember that. Even when your client does know everything it can take a while to have them tell the whole story.

Lawyers have to keep asking. Your client will say one thing and you have to follow it up with other things because it may trigger, more memories from the client. The client may know more things than they think to tell the lawyer in the first meeting. The more that you can find out before you file the case, usually the better for the case. You could say it’s  a constant process to learn as much as you possibly can about the client, the client’s case, maybe the industry that the client is coming from. There’s a lot to learn and you just have to keep asking.

How Do You Know When You Have Enough Evidence For The Government?

Most people would answer that by saying if you’ve got a complaint that can survive what’s called Rule 9(b), which requires that you plead fraud with particularity, you almost certainly have enough– you certainly have enough at that point to file. You certainly need a good faith belief that a false claims has been has been committed and that, isn’t as easy as it sounds. Fraud or at least a false claim being presented to the government, can take quite a bit of investigation and discussion with your client to get to the point where you’re comfortable that that has in fact occurred because a lot of things can be wrong at the business.

A lot of things can be done sloppily. There can be negligence. People can make mistakes. None of that necessarily means that somebody submitted a false claim or committed fraud against the government. It can take some time to get to that point and you do absolutely need a good faith belief and some evidence to support it; that that is what happened. If you have all that, you’re probably in pretty good shape.

How Long Does It Usually Take to Get Enough Evidence?

The timeframe of an investigation really varies. Sometimes you have a situation where the client shows up with everything all understood and you can do it very fast. And sometimes, the client may disappear, the client may be abroad, the client may not provide you with the information, or the client– I’ve had a situation unfortunately where a client got sick and there was really nothing anyone could do until the client got better and that caused me quite a bit of time. So, that can certainly vary.