How Cases Are Filed
Whistleblowers who bring cases under the False Claims Act must file their Complaints under seal in a United States District Court, and provide a copy of the complaint, as well as a written statement of all material evidence supporting their allegations to the Attorney General of the United States and the local United States Attorney. Because the Complaint is filed under seal, neither the defendants nor the public are aware that a Complaint has been filed. The Complaint remains under seal for 60 days, while the government investigates the whistleblowers allegations. This seal is frequently extended for months or years.
Before the whistleblower’s Complaint becomes public, the government notifies the whistleblower and the Court of whether it will intervene, or become formally involved, in the case. If the government intervenes, it assumes the lead role in litigating the case against the defendant. The whistleblower and his or her attorney remain involved in the case, and often prove to be critical partners to the government’s prosecution of the case. If the government declines to intervene, the whistleblower may continue to litigate the case on his or her own on behalf of the government.
Filing a case under the False Claims Act is complex and there are many substantive and procedural provisions in the law that can adversely impact the success of a qui tam whistleblower’s case. For example, the False Claims Act provides that only the first whistleblower who files a lawsuit raising the defendant’s fraud can continue on behalf of the government, and share in any recovery that might result. In addition, failing to file and serve the Complaint in the manner required by the False Claims Act can result in a dismissal of the whistleblower’s lawsuit. As a result of these and other complex provisions of the False Claims Act, it is critical that whistleblowers seek the assistance of experienced legal counsel who can help ensure their claim is filed and litigated properly and in a manner that protects their rights. Our attorneys have substantial experience in all aspects of False Claims Act litigation, having represented qui tam whistleblowers under the False Claims Act for twenty years.