Nolan Law Firm clients are current and former employees of companies that do business with the government, either directly or indirectly. They are highly skilled, ethical and have typically attempted to bring actual evidence or suspicions of corporate fraud to their superior’s attention. Almost always, they are told (in some fashion) to mind their own business.
Nolan Law Firm understands their experience. The Nolan Law Firm team is respected by their clients for knowing what it takes to file and prosecute a proper and responsible qui tam lawsuit.
Below are steps that a lawyer and his client should follow when prosecuting a qui tam lawsuit:
Document the Facts
If you are an employee with knowledge of false claims or kickback behavior, and desire to report your employer, be sure to (legally and ethically) document proof and gather evidence. Keep copies of all paperwork that documents inappropriate activity. Do not violate any company policies when doing this and do not seek out records that would not cross your desk in a normal work day.
Work up the Case
Cases can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months, or more to prepare, depending upon the complexity and need to file the case quickly. The case must be worked up in detail in order to make sure that the case is solid. This includes research, interviews and analysis. The attorney, along with the client, will prepare a book of facts called a “disclosure memorandum” which includes all facts, legal analysis, witness statements, expert material and documents, and serves as background information for filing the case.
File the Case
The lawsuit is filed “under seal” in federal court. This means that neither the company the case is being filed against, nor anyone else other than the government, is informed. Because qui tam cases based on the same or similar allegations cannot be filed more than once, it is critical to file the case first. The team that is first to file the case will be the only team that can pursue the case.
The case is then provided to the Department of Justice and the local United States Attorney’s office. They have a period of time (the seal period) in which they, and law enforcement agencies, can investigate the alleged fraud while the case is still under seal. The seal period could take 1 to 3 years or more. The FBI and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, among other government law enforcement agencies, investigate False Claims Act cases.
Then, once the government decides to intervene or not, the seal is lifted, the company is informed of the allegations against it and the qui tam lawsuit proceeds like any other civil lawsuit.
Typically, cases settle for double damages, meaning repayment of twice the amount of money that the government overpaid due to the fraudulent actions of the company. If the company does not settle, then the case proceeds just like any other civil lawsuit, culminating in a trial.