A website of information for those considering blowing the whistle

Preparing For A Lengthy Whistleblower Case

Is your whistleblower case taking a long time?

Last year, the U.S. government was successful in recovering over $4 billion from cases involving fraudulent activities and false claims with the help of whistleblowers. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), 2016 proved to be their third highest recovery year in False Claims Act history. Thanks to rewards and incentives available, the government can share the money pie with those who have alerted them to any illegal acts. But that metaphorical “money pie” is not something that cooks overnight. The process from preparation to fruition can often be a lengthy and unpredictable one.

Length of The Legal Process

When pursuing legal action, the first question that tends to pop up is “how long will it take?”. Understandably, people desire a direct answer because while patience is a virtue, it is also a great pain.

Lawsuits require resources with regard to finances and manpower on both ends of the process. The government invests just as much effort in reviewing matters as people devote in submitting them. Plus, cases rooted in fraud and corruption are often very complex and multilayered, if they weren’t then illicit schemes would be much easier to uncover. And of course, the dreaded “d” word is forever looming over court proceedings—delays! Delays happen for a number of reasons and can occur beyond any one person’s control.

Different Types of Cases Can Mean Varied Lengths

The type of judicial proceedings being adjudicated over impacts the expected period of time as cases involving healthcare fraud and defense contractor fraud, for instance, fall under the False Claims Act where individuals can bring an action against a suspected wrongdoer on their own. The lawsuit is filed “under seal”, providing some anonymity to the whistleblower and giving the government time to properly investigate and decide whether to join the action.

Some Cases May Take Several Years

Some of the most attention-grabbing cases took years to be resolved. The cornerstone case of Bradley Birkenfeld and his previous employer Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) was filed (by Birkenfeld’s attorneys) in 2007, wherein details were provided to the government that blew the lid off a highly secretive tax evasion system used to conceal offshore accounts for US citizens. Five years later, a hefty cheque was finally issued in the sum of $104 million—the largest award paid by the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.).

In 2009, a former employee of a top dialysis treatment company and his attorneys filed a whistleblower lawsuit under the “qui tam” provisions of the False Claims Act. The complaint stated that Davita Healthcare Partners paid doctors for the specific purposes of increasing patient referrals and discouraging competing clinics, which violated anti-kickback laws. In 2014, it was announced that the kidney care provider would settle the lawsuit in the total amount of $389 million, which should result in an award anywhere north of $50 million for the ex-Davita employee.

Conclusion

It is only natural for whistleblowers to want to know exactly what sort of journey they’re embarking upon because while the matter is being researched and litigated, the people who may have initiated the suit are still carrying on with the demands of their daily lives. However, a point to bear in mind is that the time it takes to conclude a case pales in comparison to the years of loss and devastation that can accumulate had the offense not been reported.

Whistleblowers play a fundamental role in keeping order and justice on the side of hardworking citizens and sometimes, it is difficult to put a fixed time frame on such an important societal principle.

If you have any questions regarding the legal process of whistleblower cases, contact the Whistleblower Help Center today!

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