False Claims Act Whistleblower Attorneys Colorado
The Qui Tam provisions of the False Claims Act allow persons and entities with evidence of fraud against the Federal Government, or federal programs or contracts, to sue the wrongdoer on behalf of the United States Government. Qui tam is short for “qui tam pro domino regequam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur,” which means “who pursues this action on our Lord the King’s behalf as well as his own.”
An individual who successfully pursues a Qui Tam action is entitled to a bounty that ranges from between 15% to 30% of the government’s recovery. Thus, the Act provides whistle-blowers with huge financial incentives to retain an attorney and expose fraudulent activity against taxpayers.
The following actions are considered violations of the False Claims Act, for which a Qui Tam action could be instituted:
- Knowingly presenting (or causing to be presented) to the Federal Government a false or fraudulent claim for payment;
- Knowingly using (or causing to be used) a false record or statement to get a claim paid by the Federal Government;
- Conspiring with others to get a false or fraudulent claim paid by the Federal Government:
- Knowingly using (or causing to be used) a false record or statement to conceal, avoid, or decrease an obligation to pay money or transmit property to the Federal Government.
False Claims Act cases and procedures are unique, and require a specialized knowledge of the law for a successful prosecution. The action is filed in federal court “under seal,” meaning that it is not available to the public and may only be discussed with government officials investigating the case. Even the defendants — the individual or organization charged with committing fraud — are not told about the lawsuit. This gives the government time to investigate the fraud allegations without alerting the defendant. The seal initially lasts for 60 days, but may be extended longer while the government conducts its investigation.
At the end of the sealed investigative period, the government decides whether to join, or intervene, in the qui tam lawsuit. If the government joins the case, the litigation is conducted jointly by the government and the whistle-blower’s attorney, with the government as lead counsel. If the government declines to intervene, the whistle-blower may go forward with the lawsuit and assumes primary responsibility for running the case.
The timing of a lawsuit can be critical. The first person to file a case under the False Claims Act for a particular fraud preempts all other cases. So, it is important for a whistle-blower to file action before another individual does so. It is also important to remember that False Claims Act claims must be filed within specific time frames. The False Claims Act not only allows a whistle-blower to file suit in the name of the government, but also protects whistle-blowers against retaliation for filing or investigating a potential action.
The Colorado Medicaid False Claims Act imposes liability on persons who knowingly submit false claims to Colorado’s medical assistance programs, including Medicaid. Whistle-blowers may recover between 15% and 25% of any proceeds from the action or settlement if the state intervenes in the case, and between 25% and 30% if the state decides not to intervene. The court may reduce the value of the award if the plaintiff or relator planned or initiated the fraud, or if the action is largely based on disclosures in the media or public hearings. Plaintiffs must file their complaint within specific time frames; otherwise, their claim may be lost.
What Is a Qui Tam Relator?
In cases involving whistleblowers with fraud committed by an organization or company against the state or federal government, the qui tam relator is an individual who initiates the case. The government may intervene in the case that’s being taken up on its behalf, but whether it does or not, the initiator of the case will still be called the relator. As mentioned before, a relator or plaintiff may be entitled to a percentage or portion of the money recovered by a lawsuit, depending on the case.
Please contact Baird Quinn’s Colorado labor and employment lawyers to discuss any False Claims Act matters about which you have questions. You may obtain information regarding our Denver False Claims Act lawyers through the following link.
Sarbanes Oxley Whistleblower Claims Attorneys Colorado
Baird Quinn represents clients with respect to retaliation claims under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (“SOX”). These claims are typically asserted by employees who claim that they were subjected to retaliation for reporting securities or accounting fraud and other corporate wrongdoing. Clients may include high-level executives, attorneys, managers, accountants and other whistle-blowers. See OSHA-Fact-Sheet-SOX.
SOX has had a significant impact on the legal landscape for employees at publicly-traded companies. SOX’s whistle-blower protection provisions provide a powerful legal mechanism for employees who suffer retaliation for reporting accounting fraud, misleading statements to the investing public, and other financial or securities-related misdeeds.
As SOX is a relatively new law, it is critical that employers and employees find attorneys with the expertise necessary to effectively represent their interests before the Department of Labor and in the courts. Given the short 180-day deadline for filing such claims before the Department of Labor, attorneys must be able to analyze and litigate such claims within a relatively short time frame.
The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 recently strengthened some SOX whistle-blower protections and closed unintended loopholes. Before passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, the Department of Labor interpreted SOX’s whistle-blower protection provisions to apply solely to publicly-traded companies subject to the registration and reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act and not to their wholly-owned private subsidiaries.
The Dodd-Frank Act extended SOX’s coverage and protections to the employees of subsidiaries of publicly-traded companies whose financial information is incorporated into the consolidated financial statements of a publicly-traded company. In addition, the Dodd-Frank Act increased the statute of limitations for SOX whistle-blower claims from 90 days to 180 days, giving employees more time to file a retaliation claim. The law also invalidates any mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreement that has the effect of waiving rights and remedies under SOX, and provides SOX whistle-blowers with a right to jury trial in federal court.
Having experienced attorneys on your side is important to achieving a favorable outcome in a SOX whistle-blower case. Baird Quinn has that experience, and can assist you in evaluating, prosecuting or defending a SOX claim. Please feel free to contact our Colorado Sarbanes Oxley lawyers. You may obtain additional information regarding our whistleblower lawyers at the following link.