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How it Works

What is a whistleblower claim? 

The Whistleblower

The term "whistleblower" comes from the whistle that "alerts" to something illegal or a breach of public trust. U.S. consumer activist Ralph Nader coined the phrase in the early 1970s to avoid the negative connotations found in other words such as "informers" and "snitches".

A Whistleblower discloses information he or she reasonably believes evidences a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or defrauds the United States government financially. Claims can include evidence of gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; abuse of authority; creating a substantial and specific danger to public health, or public safety. Whistleblowing claims do not necessarily apply every time the government engages in unwise purchasing, management or other decisions.

What is a Claim?

A False Claims Act (FCA) case is filed by an individual in an effort to recover funds to the U.S. government. Before the case is filed, the individual's attorney notifies the government about the fraud and discloses that a FCA case is going to be filed. After that the individual's attorney files a case in court and it is served on all persons and parties that may be involved.

After a period of investigation, the government has a choice whether it wants to get involved and move forward with the case which is called "intervening." If the government intervenes, it will take the lead on settlement negotiations or taking the case to trial. If the government does not want to intervene, the individual who brought the case may choose to move forward on his or her own. If the case moves forward, the government always has the option to change its mind and intervene at a later date because the United States is the "real party in interest" which means that the case is really about the government's interests, not the interests of the person who files the suit. The whole purpose of the case is to return money that was fraudulently obtained from the United States.

The Law.

The False Claims Act (Qui Tam), (31 U.S.C. §§ 3729–3733), is the Whistleblower Qui Tam law that imposes liability on persons and companies who cheat, steal, or defraud governmental programs, and includes the "Qui Tam" (pronounced "kee tam") provision that allows for private persons not affiliated with the government to file lawsuits on behalf of the government and receive a percentage of the funds as a reward. A whistleblower is a person filing under the Act also known as the "Relator," and receives as a reward a portion (varies, but sometimes 10-30 percent) of any recovered funds or penalties imposed.

The Settlement.

To date, the United States Justice Department has recovered more than $25 billion under the False Claims Act (FCA). Sheller, P.C. has been involved in cases settling for over $4.5 billion in Qui Tam/False Claims Act matters. These recoveries are steadily increasing each year. Choosing a law firm with proven results is of paramount importance to your success.

Types of Whistleblower Claims 

Sheller, P.C. has expertise and experience in the wide area of federal and state laws that are known as whistleblower laws, or provisions that allow citizens to be rewarded for helping the United States government or other entities recover money lost because of fraudulent business and criminal activities. Many states have adopted state False Claims Acts, which increase the scope and nature of the potential liability faced by entities.

Remember that these laws are very complex and in the opinion of those successful with these cases, should not be attempted without the aid of an experienced team of lawyers. If you are a victim of fraud, someone with information about fraud, or know that an employer is committing fraud call the whistleblower attorneys at Sheller, P.C. immediately for a confidential consultation.

Most fraud cases fall into the following major categories:

  • Federal False Claims Act
  • State False Claims Acts
  • Civil and Criminal Actions
  • Mass Tort Litigation
  • Personal Injury
  • Complex Commercial Litigation
  • Consumer Class Action
  • SEC (Dodd-Frank Act, Wall Street Reform Act) Whistleblower Act
  • IRS Whistleblower Reward Program
  • Tax Fraud
  • Financial Industry (TARP, Mortgage Fraud)
  • GSA Contract Fraud
  • Department of Defense Contractor Procurement Fraud
  • Anti-kickback Fraud
  • Government Grant and Research Fraud
  • Product Liability
  • Defective Medical Devices
  • Defective Drugs
  • False Claims Act
  • Qui Tam/ Whistleblower Claims

You are not alone with the whistleblower attorneys of Sheller, P.C. in your corner. Even if you do not have a whistleblower case, there are several other federal and state laws that have similar provisions to the federal False Claims Act with both civil and criminal provisions. In general, every state has a False Claims Act that both protects the informant and provides rewards for your courage, efforts, and information.

Do I have a viable claim? 

It takes an experienced attorney to evaluate your claim. Whistleblower Qui Tam fraud law is technically difficult to understand. It contains complex provisions and has many pitfalls for the unwary or inexperienced. In much the same way that you would hire a heart surgeon for open heart surgery, it is important to speak confidentially with an experienced qui tam lawyer to evaluate your whistleblower claim The experienced attorneys with a proven track record can help you navigate the complex maze of statutes and regulations that require strict compliance at each stage of the claims process, beginning with notification to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Do I have to pay any upfront costs? 

No. If you believe that you have a viable claim call the whistleblower attorneys at Sheller, P.C. immediately for a confidential consultation and evaluation of your facts. Sheller will review your qui tam inquiry without charge and if you hire the firm to represent you, you pay us only if your claim is successful. That means the firm represents you from beginning to end on a contingency basis so your financial commitment is only if the government recovers funds and you are paid a reward.

Whistleblower lawsuits may require the attention of multiple lawyers, a staff of paralegals and trained investigators among others. It can be very expensive with many out of pocket expenses for hiring expert witnesses, engineers, or other specialists to analyze and substantiate facts and allegations of your case. As your attorneys, Sheller, P.C. will cover whatever expenses are necessary to provide a thorough and effective representation, hiring experts, paying for any travel, document costs and litigation expenses. If your qui tam case is successful, the law firm is entitled to seek reimbursement of those expenses from the company or individuals accused of defrauding the government.

How important is confidentiality? 

Confidentiality is essential to prevent your case from being dismissed. Do not discuss your lawsuit with anyone except your attorneys at Sheller, P.C., not even family members. Your claim could be dismissed if information about the fraud becomes public to anyone before the case is filed, while under seal, during the investigation or before the conclusion is formally announced.

For these reasons and others, the need for confidentiality is essential to preserve your claim.

All whistleblower claims of fraud are filed under seal, which means that no one other than the whistleblower and his or her attorneys can have access to the case until a judge lifts the seal...

Are there time limits? 

The False Claims Act limits the time in which a lawsuit can be filed. Generally lawsuits must be filed within six years of the date the fraud is committed, but under certain circumstances they can be filed within 10 years. The provision governing time limits is complicated and some otherwise promising cases have been dismissed because of a court's interpretation of what time limit applies to a case.

Can I file a qui am claim myself? 

You could, but should you? It has been said "he who represents himself has a fool for a client."" Just because you know about government fraud does not mean that the U.S. Department of Justice or anyone else will do anything about it in a qui tam case. Many people believe all someone needs to do is file a whistleblower (qui tam) complaint, then sit back to wait for the money to arrive. Unfortunately, it rarely ever happens that way.

A caveat- you may be told, or see in company materials, that you should go through your employment's chain of command or government process if you have a potential claim. This could be a mistake. If you follow the employer or government sanctioned process, you may limit or lose your ability to fully pursue a whistleblower claim. These are often the very people who don't want you to have a claim at all. If ever in doubt, we recommend you contact us first and learn your options.

And then there's retaliation. Potential whistleblowers should keep in mind that employers or government agencies sometimes unlawfully retaliate. The U.S. Supreme Court has recently broadened the definition of retaliation- it can be subtle and seem trivial but a whistleblower attorney can advise how an adverse action, no matter how small and in total, can impact your case.

How important is a lawyer and how do I choose? 

Results matter. Success is everything. And experience is key. The False Claims Act is a complicated law that may require the attention of multiple lawyers, a dedicated staff that can work on your case, specially trained investigators and litigation experts. The average case can be very costly with many out of pocket expenses There can be costs for filing the initial lawsuit, hiring investigators, engineers, expert witnesses or even tax specialists to analyze and substantiate the facts and allegations of your case. All of these initial costs are borne by Sheller, P.C.

Sheller, P.C. whistleblower attorneys are recognized nationally for their involvement in some of the biggest whistleblower cases in U.S. History. The firm has resources in staff, investigators and attorneys who know how to pursue claims particularly the nuances of how and when to file, how to work with U.S. Attorneys and much more. The likelihood of a successful outcome to a claim is much greater if the government gets involved. The more closely your lawyer knows how to coordinate with the government, the more likely it is that the case will be resolved in the government- and in your favor.

You want your risk-taking to mean something: potentially stopping the bad guys from ever doing harm or committing fraud again, refunding defrauded dollars back to the government and your receiving a reward for your risk. Sheller, P.C. will stay with you every step of the way to maximize results.

Our Team Leaders

  • Stephen Sheller

    Stephen A. Sheller:

    Respected internationally for pharmaceutical whistleblower action and class action drug product liability cases more»

  • Jamie Sheller

    Jamie L. Sheller:

    Advocate and defender of patient's rights and safety in bellwether pharmaceutical cases more»

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