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Atlanta Whistleblower Claims

The federal government has a powerful law in place that allows “whistleblowers” to help find and stop fraud against the government. Under the False Claims Act (FCA), whistleblowers, or relators, may file claims against individuals or entities for fraudulent, wasteful, or abusive acts committed against the government. The whistleblower may be eligible to receive a compensation award for his or her courage, in the form of a percentage of any settlement the government receives as a result of your coming forward.

There are federal protections to keep whistleblowers safe from retaliation. You should not worry about facing punishment from your employer or other party because you came forward about acts of fraud. If you believe you have a whistleblower case, come to Butler Wooten & Peak LLP. We represent whistleblower clients around the nation, and have recovered well over $100 million in these types of settlements. The right attorney can effectively handle a whistleblower lawsuit on your behalf.

Whistleblower Lawsuit Procedure

U.S. Code Title 31, § 3730, provides an outline of what to expect during civil actions for fraud or false claims under the FCA. It may be in your best interest to retain an attorney to bring these types of actions. Self-representing when it comes to whistleblower lawsuits, or “qui tam lawsuits,” can result in a failed claim. Qui tam means you’re bringing the claim in the name of the government. Here’s what to expect from this type of lawsuit when brought in the state of Georgia:

  1. File the lawsuit. Anyone with evidence of false claims against the government may file a qui tam lawsuit. If another private party or the government has already filed using the evidence you have, you do not have grounds to file. File your claim confidentially, under seal, with help from an attorney. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure outline the requirements for this process. You must file under seal and on camera. If you disobey the provisions of the seal, the courts might dismiss your claim.
  2. Obey the statute of limitations. In Georgia, you have three years from the date of the fraudulent or retaliatory act, or the date of discovery of the act, to file a whistleblower claim against an employer. Georgia Code § 45-1-4 lists provisions for these claims. There are several different deadlines if your case involves an employer guilty of discrimination.For example, you have 180 days from the act if an employer discriminates against a disabled person, but one year from the date of the action in cases involving sex discrimination. Under the FCA, an individual has either six years from the date of violation or three years after the government should have known about the violation. In no case can you file after 10 years from the date of violation.
  3. Wait while the government reviews the claim. The government has 60 days from the date you file the claim to review it and make a decision on whether or not to intervene. In most cases, the government will file a motion to extend this deadline. The government has the option to intervene in the case, decline to intervene, or give written consent to dismiss the case. During this time, the complaint remains sealed. The defendant has no knowledge of the action.
  4. Continue the case with or without government intervention. If the government decides to intervene, it will take over the case. This only happens in about one-fourth of all FCA cases, and is a big deal. The government will then conduct the action from this point forward, often bringing its own claim. The decision to intervene does not necessarily mean the government believes or supports the relator’s claim. The decision not to intervene results in the person bringing the action having the right to move forward.
  5. Carry out the lawsuit. From this point, the claimant will have different responsibilities based on the level of government intervention. An attorney can help you understand your individual role based on the specifics of your case. If the courts find the defendant guilty using information you provided to the government, you might receive compensation in the form of a percentage of any settlement award or penalties.

Whistleblower lawsuits can center on cheating, intentional fraud, reckless disregard of the truth, or other wrongful acts against the government. You’ll know that you have a case under the False Claims Act if the defendant has knowingly or intentionally wronged the government, you have knowledge of fraud, your knowledge is from a private source, you’re within the statute of limitations for filing, and there is some false claim involved. At Butler Wooten & Peak LLP, we offer free consultations so that you can speak with a whistleblower attorney and find out if your case has merit. Our consultations are always entirely confidential.

Whistleblower Compensation

Whether you feel the need to speak out against fraud for the award or for other reasons, know that there is the possibility of compensation for doing so. The False Claims Act outlines damages and penalties that those guilty of false claims must pay. The FCA provides that someone who is liable for false claims owes a civil penalty of $5,500 to $11,000 for each false claim it made, plus treble the government’s damage amount. If the person liable is the same one that came forward about the violation, he or she will be liable for double damages.

The relator may receive a percentage of these penalties as well as any settlement amount the court awards. If the government decides to intervene in the action, the claimant may receive 15-20% of the amount the government recovers. If the government declines to intervene, the claimant is eligible to receive 25-30%. In some circumstances, the law may reduce the relator’s share of compensation to 10% or less. In cases where the relator organized and initiated the act of fraud, he or she may not receive any compensation.

In the event that the relator does receive compensation, the government will pay him or her out of the payment it receives from the defendant. The relator may also recover attorney’s fees, court costs, and other expenses he or she paid for the action. Note that if the government decides to file its own claim, in a proceeding that’s separate from the relator’s lawsuit, but still using the relator’s information or evidence, the relator may still take home the same share of recovery. These financial incentives serve to encourage fraud disclosures and whistleblowers.

Whistleblower Retaliation   

Fear of retaliation has stopped citizens from coming forward with information regarding fraud in the past. However, the federal government has strong laws in place to protect whistleblowers. The False Claims Act has provisions that safeguard whistleblowers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also enforces federal whistleblower protection laws when it comes to claims against employers. In addition, the state of Georgia has its own whistleblower protections and safety from retaliation. There are several systems working together to protect the identities and futures of people who uncover fraud against the government. These laws serve to prevent retaliation in any form, including:

  • Job termination or suspension
  • Demotion or reduction in pay
  • Denying overtime
  • Blacklisting
  • Punishing or disciplining
  • Denying benefits
  • Intimidating or threatening the individual
  • Harassment or discrimination
  • Any other adverse employment action

Under the False Claims Act, any individual who faces retaliation for whistleblowing is eligible for recovery. Damage relief may include reinstatement of job or position, twice the amount of back pay the employer owes (plus interest), and compensation for special damages such as litigation expenses and attorney’s fees. Filing an FCA retaliation claim requires a different process than a qui tam lawsuit. Speak to an attorney for assistance with both types of actions.

Come to Butler Wooten & Peak LLP for Whistleblower Claims

Butler Wooten & Peak LLP is a national whistleblower, False Claims Act, and retaliation law firm that has represented thousands of clients around the nation. We help private citizens come forward with incriminating evidence against fraudulent parties, navigate lawsuit proceedings, and earn maximum compensation for the civil action. Our firm has handled cases involving several types of fraud and wrongful acts against the government, such as:

  • Bankruptcy fraud
  • Corporate fraud
  • Credit/debit card fraud
  • Defense contractor fraud
  • Discrimination in the workplace
  • Environmental fraud
  • Health insurance fraud
  • Identify theft
  • Medicare and Medicaid fraud
  • Securities fraud
  • Sexual harassment in the workplace
  • Social Security fraud
  • Student loan fraud
  • Tax fraud
  • S. Customs fraud
  • S. Postal Service fraud
  • Wire fraud

In our years of litigation experience throughout the United States, we’ve learned how best to represent clients coming forward with information and evidence about all types of fraud. As soon as you notice warning signs of fraud against the federal government or GA state/local governments, or uncover evidence of illegal activity against federal parties, notify our firm. We have an office in Atlanta for in-person consultations, or you can explain your situation over the phone with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.

We offer free case reviews so you can do so without risk or obligation. Our team understands the nuances of the federal and state laws regarding false claims and whistleblowing in Georgia and around the country. Let us help you with these complex cases. Call (800) 242-2962 or contact us online to schedule your appointment today.