Qui Tam Lawyers for False Claims Act Whistleblowers

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Qui Tam LawyersKKC Staff2020-12-27T04:10:49+00:00
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If You’re a False Claims Act (FCA) whistleblower, learn how qui tam attorneys Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto can help you get a whistleblower reward and protect you against employer retaliation.

The False Claims Act requires that a whistleblower use an attorney to file a qui tam case.

For over 30 years, our qui tam lawyers have been representing qui tam whistleblowers (also known as qui tam relators) who seek rewards under the False Claims Act’s qui tam provisions. Through expert qui tam lawsuits and actions, our team has helped countless relators obtain substantial whistleblower rewards. The firm’s qui tam cases have resulted in the U.S. government recovering hundreds of millions of dollars stolen each year from American taxpayers.

Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto was the only whistleblower law firm to be nominated as one of the Top 50-Elite Plaintiff’s Law Firms in 2019. Each of the partners of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto, LLP have an AV Preeminent® rating from the Martindale-Hubbell® Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers.Ratings reflect a combination of achieving a Very High General Ethical Standards rating and a Legal Ability numerical rating.

If you believe you have firsthand knowledge of contracting fraud or violations against the government, you have the responsibility to act by filing a qui tam lawsuit to stop the fraud. Kohn, Kohn, & Colapinto qui tam lawyers can help keep your identity anonymous as you file lawsuits and for rewards, as well as protect you from harsh employer retaliation. Get in touch with us today for a free and confidential case review.

Qui Tam Cases Our Lawyers Fought and Won for Qui Tam Whistleblowers

The qui tam cases described below are just some of many examples of our legal success. To see a shortlist of public qui tam cases Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto have won, please visit our case vault.

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Aaron Westrick

Aaron Westrick

False Claims Act whistleblower Dr. Aaron Westrick forced the recall of thousands of unsafe bulletproof vests sold to law enforcement and the U.S. military. Dr. Westrick worked as a senior manager for the largest manufacturer of bulletproof vests.

As a whistleblower, he fought to protect police officers by forcing defective bulletproof vests off the market. In June 2005, the Department of Justice (DOJ) intervened in his lawsuit. Two weavers, Barrday and Hexcel, settled with the DOJ for $1 million and $15 million. In related qui tam actions, the government collected tens of millions as a direct result of Dr. Westrick’s disclosures.

The manufacturer, Second Chance Body Armor, admitted liability in its bankruptcy proceeding and paid the United States millions of dollars in damages. Dr. Westrick also prevailed in a related action filed under the State of California’s False Claims Act. On March 15, 2018, the DOJ announced a settlement in which the Japanese manufacturer of Zylon, Toyobo Co., Ltd., agreed to pay the United States $66 million.

In 2018, former Second Chance president and CEO, Richard C. Davis agreed to pay the government $125,000 to settle claims related to the Second Chance False Claims Act lawsuit.

KKC Staff2021-01-15T23:09:55+00:00
Daniel Richardson Whistleblower

Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a former Senior District Business Manager for Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). Richardson prevailed in one of the largest qui tam whistleblower cases filed against a major pharmaceutical company for “off label” marketing and illegal kickbacks. Richardson, in conjunction with other whistleblowers, held BMS accountable under the False Claims Act.

Based on frauds primarily related to federal and state Medicare and Medicaid programs, the company had to pay $515 million in fines and penalties. The whistleblowers, including Mr. Richardson, obtained their mandatory qui tam whistleblower rewards, once again demonstrating how the whistleblower reward laws are the most powerful tool for holding fraudsters accountable.

KKC Staff2020-12-18T01:04:37+00:00
Alex "Sasha" Chepurko Qui Tam and False Claims Act Whistleblower

Alex “Sasha” Chepurko

Alex Chepurko was just 21 years old when he faced off against a $100 million nationwide criminal enterprise. The first whistleblower to simultaneously file claims under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, Dodd-Frank Act, and IRS whistleblower law, the lead prosecutor called him “the hero” for documenting numerous criminal violations.

In April 2020, Chepurko obtained a $69.6 million judgment on behalf of the United States under the False Claims Act. His claim to obtain a whistleblower award from the Government is still pending.  In 2018, CBS TV profiled his case in their show Whistleblower.

The False Claims Act (FCA) Federal Law

The federal False Claims Act (FCA), or “Lincoln Law,” was initially enacted by President Lincoln to curb rampant profiteering during the Civil War. It is the most effective whistleblower law ever passed to protect and reward whistleblowers who expose government contract fraud.

The FCA qui tam provision empowers whistleblowers (also known as a qui tam relator) who have firsthand knowledge of frauds or violations against the government to report them to the appropriate officials. The provisions also incentivize whistleblowers with awards for their cooperation in working directly with government investigators, often in the capacity of a confidential informant.

The FCA qui tam law sets mandatory minimum payments to whistleblowers to help convince “insiders” to take the risk of losing their jobs or suffering other harms. This mandatory minimum is enforceable in court. The guaranteed minimum payments, which are often in the millions of dollars, are essential for convincing potential whistleblowers to step forward.

Read the Law

The False Claims Act is codified as 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-33. Section 3729 sets forth anti-fraud requirements of the Act, and 31 U.S.C. 3731 includes the provisions related to filing a qui tam lawsuit.

Qui Tam Pronunciation / Qui Tam Definition / Qui Tam Meaning

What does qui tam mean? The word qui tam is pronounced “kee tam,” or often also pronounced as “kwee tam,” which means “in the name of the king.” Under the False Claims Act, qui tam allows persons and entities with evidence of fraud against federal programs or government contracts to sue the wrongdoer on behalf of the United States Government.

Qui tam whistleblowers can receive monetary rewards if their disclosures result in a successful enforcement action. The False Claims Act qui tam whistleblower can use the law when blowing the whistle on federal programs and government contracting. Other industries covered under the qui tam provision include Medicare or Medicaid Fraud, securities and commodities frauds, tax evasion or the underpayment of taxes, money laundering, and foreign bribery, among others.

Government Contracting Fraud

Government contracting fraud misuses taxpayer money and can put lives at risk. The most common types of government contracting fraud include illegal billing schemes and over-billing, the substitution of inferior equipment, and lack of quality control. Below is a short list of the most common types of fraud in which qui tam actions are filed:

  • Overbilling the government for more than was provided;
  • Kickbacks;
  • Fraud in obtaining a government contract;
  • Providing defective goods to the government;
  • False statements on customs forms;
  • False statements to get a government lease;
  • Failure to comply with government contracts or leases;
  • Failure to pay monies owed to the government;
  • Knowingly presenting (or causing to be presented) to the federal government a false or fraudulent claim for payment;
  • Conspiring with others to get a false or fraudulent claim paid by the federal government;
  • Knowingly using (or causing to be used) an invalid record or statement to conceal, avoid, or decrease an obligation to pay money or transmit property to the federal government.

Under the qui tam provisions of the FCA, a private citizen can file a complaint in federal court alleging fraud against the government, which directly or indirectly implicates taxpayer dollars.

In addition to government contract fraud, the FCA whistleblower law also extends to other industries where government monies are involved and programs violated under the FCA. These types of fraud include:

  • Healthcare Fraud: Medicaid and Medicare Fraud committed by doctors, hospitals and other types of medical care facilities; Unnecessary medical procedures billed to Medicaid or Medicare; Illegal marketing of drugs by pharmaceutical companies;
  • National Defense Fraud: Defense contract fraud, where funds are shifted from one contract to another to profit, or the intentional inflation of costs;
  • Education & Financial Aid Fraud: For-profit colleges and universities violate the rules of the student loan programs improperly recruiting students to generate income;
  • Bank & Mortgage Fraud: Bankers submitting fraudulent claims for government insurance based on wrongful foreclosures;
  • Underpayments to Government: A reverse false claims action can occur when defendants knowingly make a false statement in order to avoid having to pay the government when payment is otherwise due.

FCA cases in which the government intervenes successfully obtain a recovery around 95% of the time, while that number drops dramatically in non-intervened cases. If you have knowledge of government contract fraud and need a whistleblower advocate to help you with your case, please contact us.

False Claims Act Whistleblower Rewards for Qui Tam Relators

The False Claims Act qui tam provision incentivizes whistleblowers to give the government the best evidence, related to the biggest frauds.

A False Claims Act whistleblower can receive between 15 and 30 percent of the total recovery the U.S. gets from the defendant. The other award programs offer between 10 and 30 percent, depending on the sanction amount. The Dodd-Frank Act, Securities Exchange Act, IRS/Tax, Commodity Exchange Act and FCPA all have provisions for the mandatory payment of whistleblower rewards to qualified whistleblowers.

There are no “caps” on awards; the value of the information the whistleblower provides serves as the basis for the award’s amount: The better the information provided, the larger the sanction. The larger the sanction, the larger the reward. The government is required to make these payments. If the government refuses to pay the requisite reward, you can challenge that denial in court.

Since 1986 approximately $7.3 billion has been paid in whistleblower rewards.

If you know of a person or corporation you believe is committing government contracting fraud or violating Federal or State False Claims Acts, contact a qui tam attorney at Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto.

Filing Actions and Lawsuits with the Qui Tam Lawyers Kohn, Kohn, and Colapinto

The team at Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto law firm have been using the False Claims Act law qui tam provisions to protect the identity of our whistleblower clients for over 30 years. We help our clients safely and confidentially navigate the complex process of qui tam litigation, and guard them against any possible retaliation that may occur.

Qui Tam Action

A complaint, known as a qui tam action, must be confidentially filed under seal in federal district court following the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

A copy of the action with a written disclosure statement of substantially all material evidence and information, must be confidentially served on the U.S. Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney for the district the action is filed.

In addition to filing a formal qui tam lawsuit in federal court, you must also comply with the other requirements of the law, including the following:

  • The FCA whistleblower must file the complaint under “seal,” which is secret and not public. The complaint is strictly confidential when first submitted;
  • If another qui tam relator files a claim based on the fraud you are alleging before submitting your qui tam suit, this disqualifies you from the qui tam process;
  • The complaint is not served on any of the defendants. The whistleblower serves the complaint on the local U.S. Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney General. Until the court orders the “seal” removed, you must keep the fact that you filed a False Claims Act case strictly confidential. If the plaintiff violates the provisions of the seal, his or her complaint could be dismissed.

Furthermore, each state has its own rules and regulations regarding filing a state qui tam relator reward case. But to facilitate filing state qui tam cases, Congress amended the federal FCA to make it relatively easy to include state claims as part of a federal qui tam lawsuit.

States With False Claims Acts

What Does A Decision On “Intervention” Mean?

Once the complaint is filed in court and served on the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General, the United States is required to investigate the whistleblower’s information. After completing the investigation, the United States decides whether to “intervene” in the case.

Once the United States communicates its decision as to whether it will intervene to the presiding judge, the case is usually taken out of “seal” and filed on the public docket. Although the whistleblower is confidential when filing the qui tam lawsuit, once a case is out of seal, the whistleblower’s identity is on the public record. However, for a good cause, a whistleblower can ask a Court to keep his or her identity confidential.

If the United States “intervenes” in the case, the United States takes over the litigation and proceeds to prosecute the fraudster. The whistleblower remains a party in the case and can fully participate, but the United States conducts the litigation. When the United States intervenes, it generally means that a case will have a favorable resolution. The government has validated the allegations raised by the whistleblower and is willing to spend resources fighting the defendant.

If intervention is “declined,” the whistleblower has a right to proceed with the lawsuit. Litigating a case after a declination is usually very difficult, as defendants will often aggressively fight the case. Also, a whistleblower may have to pay court costs if they lose the case. There is also the possibility of sanctions for misconduct or for filing a frivolous claim.

However, the qui tam provision that permits the whistleblower to pursue a case, even if the United States declines prosecution, is among the most critical rules in the False Claims Act. It helps to keep the government officials honest.

How Long Does It Take For The Resolution of A False Claims Act Case?

It is not unusual for qui tam cases to remain under seal for an extended period, even for multiple years.

The government is typically required to file periodic reports with the district court explaining the reasons for extending the seal. The case is taken out of seal once the government decides whether or not to intervene and take over the whistleblower’s qui tam case. Then the case may proceed out of the seal, like any other civil case.

Some cases resolve relatively quickly while other cases move to full litigation and may continue for several years before final decision or settlement.

Whistleblower Protection for False Claims Act Whistleblowers

Section 3730(h) of the False Claims Act states that any employee who is discharged, demoted, harassed, or otherwise retaliated against for taking actions to promote the purposes behind the FCA, can file an employment discrimination claim in federal court.

This action can be presented as part of a qui tam reward case or as a stand-alone cause of action. The law provides for a jury trial and full “make whole” relief, including reinstatement, double back pay, and compensation for any special damages, including litigation costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Qui Tam Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for a qui tam action is either six years after the date from when a fraud was committed; or three years beyond the date which the United States should be aware of the “material facts,” – but this should not exceed 10 years. The statute of limitations for a False Claims Act whistleblower retaliation case is three years.

In Cochise Consultancy Inc. v. United States, ex rel. Hunt, Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto presented an amicus curiae in a case filed to the Supreme Court on behalf of a qui tam whistleblower. Justices unanimously ruled in favor of whistleblowers, finding that a ten-year statute of limitations is applicable to whistleblower-initiated claims when under specific conditions. This decision was a significant victory for whistleblowers under the False Claims Act.

File a Qui Tam Action With Qui Tam Lawyers Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto

The qui tam False Claims Act provisions cover relators filing qui tam lawsuits and prohibits retaliation for filing a qui tam action. Every law has its own rules and regulations governing the filing of a qui tam suit or a request for a whistleblower reward. These procedures are very technical. Failure to file a timely claim following the specific procedures outlined in each law can result in an otherwise qualified whistleblower losing his or her claim to a reward. If you think you have a qui tam case, contact one of our qui tam lawyers for a confidential case review.

To get started, contact one of our qui tam lawyers to see if we can help you.

Resources for Qui Tam Whistleblowers