Upholding the Public Trust and Obtaining Recoveries for Whistleblowers
The False Claims Act prohibits people and companies from defrauding the federal government by knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false claim for payment or approval. The act is designed to prevent losses to the federal government. Violations of the False Claims Act can result in judgment in an amount equal to three times the amount of losses the U.S. Treasury sustained, plus civil fines.
Almost any type of fraud in which the government has paid money, or has been billed for money, based on fraudulent claims likely falls under the False Claims Act. Many successful False Claims Act cases have involved Medicare and military contracting fraud, while other successful cases have dealt with federal funding for environmental, energy, farm and education programs, among others.
Who Can Be a Whistleblower?
The "qui tam" provision of the False Claims Act allows a person or people to act as whistleblowers and sue the wrongdoer on behalf of the U.S. government. In such cases, the whistleblower is referred to as a "relator." These cases are known as "qui tam" lawsuits.
A successful whistleblower is entitled to a percentage (ranging from 15 to 30 percent) of the total amount of monies the government recovers as a result of the lawsuit.
Any person or entity that has evidence of a fraud occurring against the government may act as a whistleblower under the False Claims Act. Please read our False Claims Act FAQ for comprehensive answers to your questions about whistleblower rights and whistleblower law.
Attorney Robert Nelson Describes the Top 3 Factors for Whistleblowers in Selecting a Lawyer
Other Whistleblower Laws
Under the financial reform legislation enacted in 2010, known as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, whistleblowers who provide the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission with information about a violation of federal securities laws may be entitled to a reward if the government acts on that information. The recovery in this type of whistleblower case can be from 10 to 30 percent of the amount the government collects.
The majority of states now also have qui tam or similar statutes, and so claims involving losses to states may also be actionable.
The Internal Revenue Service has its own separate whistleblower provision as well for tax fraud.
Successfully Representing Whistleblowers
Attorney Robert Nelson Provides an Overview of the Lieff Cabraser False Claims Act Practice
We represent whistleblowers in a wide range of federal False Claims Act and other whistleblower cases. We have the resources, experience, and skill to appropriately investigate even the largest and most complex matters and take them all the way through trial.
Lieff Cabraser's recent successes in False Claims Act cases include helping former University of Phoenix enrollment counselors receive a portion of a $78.5 million settlement, the largest settlement ever in a qui tam case involving the U.S. Department of Education. The complaint alleged that the University of Phoenix defrauded the Department of Education by obtaining federal student loan and Pell Grant monies based on false statements of compliance with the Higher Education Act.
For his outstanding work as Lead Counsel and the significance of the case, California Lawyer magazine recognized Lieff Cabraser attorney Robert J. Nelson with a California Lawyer of the Year (CLAY) Award.
Because several of our cases remain under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice or state governments, we do not list all of our current False Claims Act cases.