KLINE & SPECTER
A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION

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Whistleblower FAQ

 

 Frequently Asked Questions

 

 How much are attorney fees for help filing a whistleblower lawsuit?  None. Kline & Specter will
handle qui tam lawsuits on a contingency basis. The firm gets paid nothing up front. It receives a
percentage of a reward plus expenses if – and only if – a suit is successful. If a whistleblower does
not receive a reward, neither does the firm receive any remuneration, not even for expenses it may have incurred.

 

How much of a reward can I get? Federal law provides for a reward of 15-25 percent when the
government gets involved in a case and more, up to 30 percent, when a citizen goes it alone. The
amount a whistleblower receives is based on how much he or she actually contributes to the case.
Often the amount is negotiated between government lawyers and the lawyer(s) representing the
whistleblower, another reason for getting representation.

 

 Where must a whistleblower’s information come from? Those filing qui tam lawsuits on the
government’s behalf are expected to have independent knowledge of a fraud. In other words, the
information cannot come from other sources or public documents but the relator -- the name given
to a citizen who files a whistleblower lawsuit -- must be an “original source” of the information.
The source is expected to have reported the fraud to the government before filing a lawsuit.

 

 Can I get fired if I file a whistleblower lawsuit against my employer? The U.S. False Claims Act
protects citizens who file qui tam suits. So do many states. The federal law allows citizens who
suffer retaliation by an employer to file a cause of action to not only get their jobs back but they
can seek double their pay plus interest for time lost on the job. (See state whistleblower protection laws)

 

 Will the government help me with a lawsuit? In many cases, the government joins the lawsuit. After a citizen files a federal whistleblower suit, it is delivered to the Department of Justice, which then can investigate the matter and decide whether or not to join the suit. If the government does not join the case, the citizen may pursue the case alone. In either event, a private attorney can be helpful in preparing a presentation of the case that will persuade the government to not only investigate and help, but also to make it a priority.

 

 Does there need to be “intent to defraud” to file a suit? No, not per se. A qui tam suit is not limited to cases in which an entity had a specific intent to defraud the government. In some cases, a fraud can be perpetrated if an individual or company deliberately ignored or disregarded actions that resulted in the government being defrauded.

 

 What are some examples of healthcare fraud? Medical-related fraud takes many forms and costs the government billions of dollars every year. False claims by doctors and clinics to Medicare and Medicaid are among the most prevalent. Claims can include pharmaceuticals or those for services, tests or medical devices that were medically unnecessary or never actually provided. There have also been numerous cases of kickbacks paid to healthcare professionals for prescribing or using various services or products.

 

  Can I report tax fraud committed by individuals or companies? Yes, under federal law enacted in 2006, violations greater than $2 million can be reported to the Internal Revenue Service, which actually has its own Whistleblower Office. The statute provides for whistleblowers to receive a reward of 15-30 percent of any amount the IRS recovers. It also sets a fairly high threshold on reporting suspected fraud by individuals – they must earn more than $200,000 annually.

 

 What if I was part of the fraud originally? A whistleblower can still receive a reward even if he or she was part of the fraudulent activity so long as the whistleblower came forward and reported the activity to the government. The amount of the reward will depend, however, on how soon the whistleblower came forward and how much information he or she was able to provide. If the whistleblower at any point tried to prevent the fraud, that will also help in receiving a larger reward. One proviso: If the whistleblower is criminally convicted as part of the fraud, all bets are off; the government will not pay any reward.

 

 

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