The Role of the Whistleblower
Qui tam provisions in False Claims Acts are designed to encourage private citizens to “blow the whistle” on fraud against the government and to file False Claims Act lawsuits on behalf of the government and themselves. The government often doesn’t have the resources to discover and fight fraud on its own. As a result, it necessarily relies on the efforts of whistleblowers – also known as “relators” – individuals who have information and the courage to stand up to wrongdoers, “relating” to the government information about schemes that rip off the government. Qui tam provisions in False Claims Acts permit whistleblowers to file lawsuits against the wrongdoers on behalf of the government and themselves, and provide the whistleblowers a portion of the government’s recovery as an incentive and reward for acting.
By “blowing the whistle” on fraud, whistleblowers often risk losing their jobs, and usually expend significant time and energy in pursuing these cases. Thus, in addition to being eligible to receive a portion of the government’s recovery, whistleblowers are entitled to recover their attorneys’ fees and expenses directly from the wrongdoer, and to obtain compensation if they are retaliated against and/or lose their jobs as a result of their courageous actions.
Unfortunately, government is often thinly staffed and not well-equipped to discover fraud. Moreover, there are innumerable ways to silently rip off the government, and many entities, including major multi-national corporations, use fraud and false claims against the government as methods for improving their bottom line. These companies often include these schemes as part of their business plan, encouraging and rewarding employees for violating the law, often without revealing to most employees that the scheme is against the law. This commonly occurs in government healthcare programs, where hospitals, physicians’ practices and other medical care providers and suppliers rationalize that the government is not paying them full value. This behavior also takes place in defense contractors and government contractors of all types, for the purpose of increasing profits – at the expense of the government and all of us who pay taxes.
Without people of strong moral character inside these organizations who see the law being violated and try to stop it, ultimately blowing the whistle, most fraud against the government would likely go undiscovered. Thus, whistleblowers are a vital part of fighting the fraud that costs taxpayers billions of dollars. And recognizing how much we as taxpayers need insiders to speak up, qui tam provisions in False Claims Acts rightfully reward such whistleblowers with a portion of the recovery. These individuals are doing something important for us all, and the Law Offices of Patrick J. O’Connell is proud to focus exclusively on representing whistleblowers fighting fraud.