A whistleblower is loosely defined as a person who reports to the government the conduct of a company that is either illegal or dishonest. Of course you could have a whistleblower who reports to the government on improper or illegal conduct by employees in government. Whistleblowers are protected under the False Claims Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and many other federal laws. In fact there is not one law governing false claims or improper conduct by businesses or government but many laws depending on the type of fraud or waste.
The various federal and in some instances state laws that are enacted to protect whistleblowers do not always work perfectly. There are many reported cases where companies and government officials retaliated against the employee who reported improper or wrongful conduct and the employee had to go to court to protect his/her job. I do think that this area of the law is improving and we are witnessing much more employee protection than ever before in this country. There is actually an Office of Whistleblower Protection Program. One of the attractive features of many of the whistleblower laws is that they offer a financial incentive for reporting on departments in the government or businesses that engage in improper waste, spending, or violate laws. For example under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) the Securities and Exchange Commission can provide money payments for people who report violations of security laws.
The term "qui tam" is also heard or written about in connection with a whistleblower action. Qui Tam is part of the False Claims Act which permits a private citizen with the help of an attorney to file a lawsuit against any company or person who may have committed fraud upon the United States Government. Once the lawsuit is filed and the government is notified, the government has the right to intervene and become a party to the lawsuit. Some of the "qui tam" whistleblower lawsuits have earned citizens millions of dollars for the fraud they reported.
You usually hear of large monetary awards in qui tam lawsuits or whistleblower actions involving medical fraud and waste. The Obama administration has made uncovering and preventing fraud in the health care field one of its priorities. Here are just a few of the major awards: JP Morgan paid $45 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit alleging it charged veterans hidden fees in mortgage refinancing; BOA whistleblower gets $1 million;; Dynacorp agrees to pay $7.7 million in whistleblower case. At Coxwell & Associates we have helped people report medical fraud and abuse. The healthcare costs in this nation are rising astronomically. While lawsuits are blamed by big business and the insurance industry, the amount of money lost to fraud and waste is far in excess of the cost of medical negligence cases. Payments to people who have been injured by medical errors or negligence in this country amounts to less than 1% of the costs of medical care costs but medical waste and fraud is estimates at $700 billion a year. .
If you have knowledge of fraud or waste in government contracts, over-billing to the government in medical care cases, improper charges in mortgage cases, violations of the law dealing with securities do not hesitate to call and schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys. We are willing to help you investigate and explore the possibility of filing a whistleblower or qui tam case.
Merrida Coxwell has been practicing law for approximately 32 years. During this time he has handled complex civil, criminal, and business fraud cases. The interests of the clients are the driving force behind the success of Merrida Coxwell and Coxwell & Associates.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.