Do I Have A Potential Whistleblower Claim?
The False Claims Act is a powerful federal statute that allows private citizens-known as whistleblowers or relators-to help root out fraud, waste, and abuse committed against the federal government. A whistleblower can sue on behalf of the federal government and, as compensation for helping to expose the fraud, is entitled to a share of the proceeds recovered.
How Do You Know If You Have A Potential False Claims Act Case?
- The federal government was cheated: The federal government, typically a federal agency, must have been wronged by a company, city, county, or private individual. A private party cheating another private party, such as a doctor ripping off a private insurance company, does not create liability under the False Claims Act. As well, a State cannot be sued for committing fraud against the federal government.
- The fraud was committed knowingly, with reckless disregard of the truth, or with deliberate indifference of the truth: The entity or person committing fraud cannot have done so accidentally. But, if the company had an idea they might be doing something wrong but did not check, that can create a claim. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. The entity cannot bury its head in the sand and submit false claims.
- You have knowledge of the fraud: You must have knowledge of how the potential defendant committed the fraud, and it is good to have physical evidence (such as documents, invoices, emails, accounting balance sheets, training manuals, etc.) to prove how the fraud was committed.
- Your knowledge is from a private source: You cannot pull your allegations from publicly available sources, such as the newspaper or television. If you reported the fraud to the media or the government, but have not yet sued, you may still have a claim. Contact Butler Wooten Cheeley & Peak LLP, to find out if you can still bring a claim.
- The fraud must be relatively recent: The party committing fraud must be sued in a timely fashion. The entity should be sued by within six years from when the false claim was filed, or within three years after the government knew or should have known about the fraud, with the violation occurring no longer than 10 years prior to suit.
- There must be a "false claim": A "false claim" can come in many different shapes and sizes, but essentially a "false claim" is asking to be paid by the federal government for all or some portion of goods or services that the entity committing fraud was not entitled to receive. Oftentimes the fraud is highly technical and hidden so that the fraud cannot be easily uncovered by the government. Examples of false claims include, but are not limited to:
- Retaining Medicare overpayments longer than 60 days;
- Double billing - billing twice for the same item;
- "Off-label" or illegal marketing of prescription drugs;
- Illegal marketing of prescription drugs or services through kickbacks;
- Billing for services or goods which were never rendered;
- Providing faulty goods or services;
- Certifying that the entity had met the federal agency's program qualifications, when it actually had not, and seeking payment anyway.
If you think you may have a potential whistleblower case, call the national whistleblower claims lawyers at Butler Wooten Cheeley & Peak LLP, for a free consultation. Butler Wooten Cheeley & Peak LLP, has the expertise and resources to take on the companies who committed such fraud and to maximize your recovery. Our attorneys have recovered over $150 million in False Claims Act cases. Contact Butler Wooten Cheeley & Peak LLP, to begin investigating your claim today.