Fraud or Misrepresentation in the Workplace: How to File a False Claims Act

a close-up of some wires

Who can pursue legal action against a large corporation? Any individual who has witnessed false representation—and they will be protected from harassment and unfair dismal, according to a subsection of the False Claims Act.

It is a common misconception that false claims cannot be filed by private persons in the United States. On the contrary, this subsection states that whistleblowers, formally known as “realtors,” are capable of bringing forward civil cases against individuals, businesses, and other organizations if they believe they have committed fraud.

It is a commonly known fact in criminology that due to this subsection, realtors are actively bringing forth cases to the attorney general, with the cloak of confidentiality protecting them. Realtors play a very significant role in the exposure of corrupt behavior. In many cases in the US, realtors have exposed criminal injustice against corporate entities, including health care providers who have knowingly committed fraud, sometimes for years.

Due to the Whistleblower Protection Act, a subsection which has recently been amended, whistleblowers bring to light many cases of widespread injustice, often on a global scale. Opinions of the federal courts of the United States, as recorded by the Federal Reporter, can be reviewed online by any individual. There are three series of examples of cases in which the attorney general charged corporations like Medicare with fraud thanks to the insight of whistleblowers.

Those seeking examples of successful realtor cases from 1925 to 1993 can search under the Second Series, or f.2d. The Third Series includes opinions from cases from 1993 to the present. Receipt of cases involving Medicaid, Medicare, and other global enterprises can easily be found online. With only a simple Google search you can unveil decades worth of material that proves how beneficial the quiet, anonymous referrals of whistleblowers are for the US government and the world at large.

How the Federal False Claims Act Enables and Protects Whistleblowers

The federal False Claims Act, otherwise known as the “Lincoln Law,” is a revolutionary statute that puts the power back in the hands of the public. Claims under this law have typically involved federal healthcare programs, such as Medicare, and pharmaceutical companies. In recent years the US government has received close to $28 billion in damages under the False Claims Act, and 70% of the civil cases filed were done by qui tam relators who were protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act subsection.

The purposes of this section of the Lincoln Law provide employees with the opportunity to whistleblow against their employers without losing their jobs, and to reward realtors financially for exposing a civil penalty that they might otherwise have chosen to overlook out of the desire to remain employed by a large corporation. A submission of a fraudulent statement before the attorney general is necessary in order to bring light to injustice.

Consider one very recent example. Without whistleblowers, the recent U.S.C. college admissions scandal never would have made it into the public consciousness. The deposition of the Dean of Admissions at U.S.C., along with the public downfall of celebrities who knowingly falsified information on their children’s applications, would never have occurred without Morrie Tobin, the Yale father who led prosecutors to criminal mastermind William Singer. The attorney general for the District of Massachusetts found Singer guilty on multiple counts, including fraud and bribery.

Protection for Realtors in the Workplace

Those who file are guaranteed confidentiality. Realtors are guaranteed protection under the False Claims Act, including reinstatement to their former position if they are unjustly discharged or demoted. Compensation for legal fees is also offered should a whistleblower face harassment, exclusion, kickback, slander, or discrimination due to their choice to pursue action. A specific subsection of the False Claims Act offers protection, but the scope of said protection varies by state and is currently a matter of hot debate within the courts. The purposes of this section will be reviewed by your attorney and you will be told what compensation you are entitled to.

It is worth noting that most cases involving fraudulent statements involve huge, billion-dollar companies. For this reason it is very intimidating and overwhelming to expose a false record. Many realtors in famous cases have been employees of major pharmaceutical companies and federal healthcare programs, such as in the case of United States v. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer, Inc., in which a whistleblower presented evidence to the attorney general of falsity of the information in the marketing of a drug called Rapamune.

The case culminated in a $257.4 million settlement and criminal penalties of a very broad scope were noted in the settlement, forcing Pfizer’s subsidiary Wyeth Pharmaceuticals to plead guilty to a violation of the Food and Drug Cosmetics Act by illegally marketing Rapamune for off-label purposes. This was one of the largest qui tam cases for a single drug in American legal history. The outcome of this particular case proves that material fact matters, and injustice will not always prevail.

How Qui Tam Relation Works

Those pursuing a lawsuit against an entity in good faith can bring material forward as a qui tam plaintiff that proves a false statement has been made. Misrepresentations, false accusations, and false records are serious crimes. On behalf of the government, plaintiffs are compensated for their commitment to justice, too: the whistleblower is rewarded a share, typically between 30% and 50% of the amount of damages that the United States government obtains under the False Claims Act.

The defendant, of course, is permitted to file their own claim in response to an accuser’s claim. In retaliation they can pursue justice and the attorney general will establish whether a false accusation or misrepresentation has indeed occurred. Since most defendants belong to massive corporate enterprises with ruthless criminal attorneys at their beck and call, it is inadvisable for qui tam plaintiffs to file without legal counsel. Though it is comforting to believe that “truth will out,” it is idealistic. There are many obstacles standing in the way of justice, and working without counsel can be profoundly demoralizing and frustrating, especially if a case is thrown out.

Despite the complicated components that prevent many cases from moving on, overall, the statute has been an effective way of ensuring qui tam action is taken against violators of the False Claims Act. It has enabled whistleblowers to come forward, alongside attorneys with experience representing qui tam individuals. False reports and representations are a criminal offense, and should be taken seriously. In the era of the Third Series, more and more realtors are pursuing legal action against corrupt organizations.

How to Pursue Action As a Qui Tam Plaintiff

Filing a false claims report is a tedious and complex process. Like other types of civil cases, yours can be adversely affected by a variety of factors, including failure to file and serve the complaint in the correct manner. This can lead to a plaintiff’s case being thrown out before they ever get the chance to swear an affirmation or affidavit. For this reason, it is advisable to enlist the help of a reputable attorney with experience in circuit court. Your attorney can help you gather material evidence and build a strong civil case.

A very common fraudulent claim is misrepresentation, which, though similar to slander, is defined in federal law and criminology as an “untrue or misleading statement of fact made during negotiations by one party to another, the statement then inducing that other party to enter into a contract.” If you, like many of the relators involved in pharmaceutical cases, have become privy to corrupt or misleading action occurring within the ranks of your company, you are encouraged to seek counsel and begin building your qui tam case.