Are you thinking about filing a whistleblower lawsuit to put a stop to government fraud at the federal or state level?
Simien & Simien's Louisiana whistleblower attorneys can manage every aspect of your claim, from the investigation to filing a claim and representing you in court. Our skilled lawyers will aggressively pursue the largest percentage of the recovered funds allowed under federal or state law. We are also prepared to fight back against any retaliation you experience for your courageous actions.
Simien & Simien has offices in Baton Rouge, Lake Charles and New Iberia. Our attorneys also have membership in various legal organizations in Louisiana, such as the Louisiana Association for Justice and the Louisiana State Law Institute.
Schedule a free, no obligation legal consultation to learn more about how our Louisiana whistleblower attorneys can assist you with a qui tam claim.
Defining Government Fraud
Under the False Claims Act (FCA), an individual who knowingly engages in any of the following activities has defrauded the government:
- Presenting or causing the presentation of a fraudulent claim for payment or approval from the government
- Making or causing the creation of false records or statements to receive payment or approval from the government for a claim
- Taking part in a conspiracy with the intent of getting a false claim allowed or paid by the government
- Failing to deliver property to the government
- Delivering a receipt certifying the receipt of government property when you do not know if the receipt is accurate
- Purchasing or accepting government property from an individual who does not have the right to sell government property
- Using false statements or records to hide, avoid or decrease an obligation to pay money to the government
Contact our Louisiana whistleblower attorneys right now. Call (800) 374-8422 today.
Types of Whistleblower Claims
Government fraud occurs in many different industries, such as:
- Scientific research
- Disaster relief
- Defense contracts
- Investing and financial services
- Real estate
- U.S. Postal Service
- U.S. Customs
- Student loans
- Higher education
Common forms of fraud that occur in these industries include:
- Fraud committed by the military
- Fraud in road construction
- Fraud committed by vendors or contractors against the federal government
- Sending bills to Medicare for services or tests that were not performed
- Adding fake diagnosis codes to bills to obtain money from Medicare or Medicaid
- Submitting duplicate claims to obtain higher reimbursements for healthcare services
- Overcharging the government for something
- Overbilling for defense contracts
- Billing for hours that were not worked
- Misuse of money in retirement accounts
- Conspiring to rig bids on government contracts
- Fraudulently obtaining a government grant
- Paying recruiters to enroll students at a college or university
- Encouraging students to falsify academic records to obtain federal funds
- Sending defective parts to the government
- Failing to conduct the proper inspection of a product, as mandated by a government contract
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form to schedule a free consultation.
Personal Injuries Under Federal Tort Claims Act
Our Louisiana whistleblower attorneys are also prepared to represent individuals who suffered personal injuries caused by the negligence of a federal agency or employee, as provided under the Federal Tort Claims Act 28 U.S. Code § 2671.
However, there are numerous limitations to these types of claims, including:
- Claimants can only sue federal employees, not independent contractors.
- The negligence must have occurred in the scope of the accused's employment.
- With rare exceptions, the basis of your claim must be negligence and not intentional misconduct by the federal employee.
If your claim is successful you can obtain compensation for injury, property loss or death.
Unfortunately, these lawsuits are much more complicated than traditional personal injury lawsuits. That is why you need an experienced Louisiana whistleblower attorney to represent you.
Lawsuits Under the Louisiana False Claims Act
You can also file a qui tam lawsuit concerning fraud against the government of the State of Louisiana.
For instance, you can file a claim under the Louisiana False Claims Act, also known as the Medical Assistance Programs Integrity Law. It is designed to prevent and respond to fraud by healthcare providers participating in medical assistance programs in Louisiana.
Under this law, anyone who knowingly engages in any of the following activities has committed fraud against medical assistance programs in the state:
- Knowingly presenting a false claim
- Knowingly engaging in fraud to obtain payment from medical assistance programs
- Knowingly making, using or causing the creation or use of false records or statements to conceal, avoid or decrease an obligation to pay money or send property to the medical assistance programs
- Conspiring to defraud the medical assistance programs by misrepresentation or attempting to obtain payment for a false claim
- Knowingly submitting a claim for goods, services or supplies that were not medically necessary, or that were of substandard quality or quantity
Examples of false claims under the Louisiana False Claims Act include:
- Making false or misleading statements on forms to certify or qualify someone for eligibility in a medical assistance program
- Obtaining a recipient list for an unauthorized purpose
- Soliciting, receiving, offering or paying any remuneration in return for referring someone to a healthcare provider
- Making kickbacks to obtain recipient lists, numbers, names or other identifying information
Simien & Simien's Louisiana whistleblower attorneys can help you pursue a whistleblower claim under the Louisiana False Claims Act.
Learn more about how we can help you. Call (800) 374-8422.
How to File a Qui Tam Lawsuit
False Claims Act lawsuits must be filed in the name of the government. Your case will be under seal for a minimum of 60 days, which means the people you are accusing of fraud will not have access to your complaint.
Rule 4(d)(4) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires claimants to submit a copy of the complaint and written disclosure of all material evidence to the government.
During the 60 days that the case is under seal, the government will decide whether to join the case. If the government decides not to join, it will be up to you to proceed with the lawsuit, if you choose.
If the government joins, or you go forward with the claim yourself, the complaint will be sent to the defendant after the 60-day period is over. The defense will have 20 days to respond.
Prosecuting the Case Without the Government
The government may still be involved in your claim even if it decides not to prosecute it. For instance, the government maintains the right to request copies of all pleadings and depositional transcripts.
The government can also enact a 60-day stay on the discovery of certain facts in the case if the government is investigating a civil or criminal case involving the same facts.
The government can extend the stay if it shows that the discovery would interfere with the other civil or criminal case.
The government is also permitted to intervene or take over your case at any time.
Our Louisiana whistleblower attorneys will advise you if it makes sense to continue the claim without the government.
What if the Government Takes Over the Case?
When the government takes over a qui tam lawsuit, it assumes primary responsibility for managing the claim.
You can continue to be a party to the action, but your role in the claim could be severely limited. For instance, the government has the right to do any of the following:
Dismiss the claim
The government can do this regardless of any of your objections, as long as it notifies you of the motion for dismissal and provides you an opportunity for a hearing on the motion.
Settle the claim
The government can do this as long as the court determines via a hearing that the settlement is fair, adequate and reasonable given the circumstances.
Limit your participation in the claim
The government is allowed to do this as long as it can show that your unrestricted participation in the claim would be repetitious, irrelevant, or interfere or cause an unreasonable delay in the government's prosecution of the case.
If the government shows that your participation in the case would constitute harassment, it can do any of the following:
- Limit the number of witnesses you can call
- Limit the length of those witnesses' testimony
- Limit your cross-examination of witnesses
Despite the fact that the government could limit your role in the claim if it takes over, your claim actually has a much higher chance of success if the government is on board.
That is why our Louisiana whistleblower attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation to build a strong claim that is more likely to entice the government to get on board.
Contact our Louisiana whistleblower attorneys now. Call (800) 374-8422.
False Claims Act Compensation
If your claim is successful, whether the government joins or not, you will be entitled to a percentage of the proceeds of the case or the settlement.
While having the government on board gives your claim a higher chance of success, you have a chance of recovering a higher percentage if the government does not join.
According to the False Claims Act, with the government on board, you can recover between 15 and 25 percent of the proceeds or settlement of the claim. If the government does not join, and you are still successful, you could recover 25 to 30 percent of the settlement.
Your percentage of compensation depends on the court's determination about your level of contribution to the success of the claim. If the court determines that you made a significant contribution to the success of the claim, you will receive a higher percentage of compensation than if you made a smaller contribution.
You are also entitled to compensation for reasonable attorneys’ fees and legal costs. These costs will be paid by the defendant.
Contact Simien & Simien today to learn more about how our Louisiana whistleblower attorneys can help with your case.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form.
Statute of Limitations for Qui Tam Claims
There is a limit to the amount of time in which you can file a qui tam claim under the False Claims Act. This limit, or deadline, is also called the statute of limitations. Once the statute of limitations expires, you are prohibited from filing a claim.
The statute of limitations is six years from when the fraud occurred or three years after the government knew or should have known that fraud occurred.
In some cases, it may take many years before the government should be aware of fraud. In these situations, the claim must be filed within 10 years of the violation.
Our Louisiana whistleblower attorneys can ensure your claim is filed on time so you do not miss your opportunity to file a claim against those who committed government fraud.
Call our Louisiana whistleblower attorneys today. (800) 374-8422
Whistleblowing for Tax Fraud
The False Claims Act does not cover tax fraud against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). However, the IRS does have a whistleblower law under which you can bring a qui tam claim.
There are many examples of tax fraud, such as:
- Not reporting income or assets when filing taxes
- Using deductions you are not eligible for
- Underreporting profits
- Claiming a charitable donation when you did not make one
Whistleblower Claims for Tax Fraud
If you want to file a whistleblower claim for tax fraud, our Louisiana whistleblower attorneys will contact the IRS Whistleblower Office.
If your claim satisfies two conditions, and you are successful, you could receive 15 to 30 percent of the recovered funds:
- The claim is regarding fraud committed by an individual who has gross income greater than $200,000 for any year when the fraud occurred.
- The claim involves fraud in excess of $2 million.
You can receive up to 10 percent of the recovered funds in a successful claim involving allegations disclosed from the following sources:
- Judicial or administrative hearings
- Government reports, hearings, audits or investigations
- News media
The Louisiana whistleblower attorneys at our firm are ready to assist you.
Contact our firm today for a free, no obligation legal consultation.
Filing a Claim Under the Louisiana False Claims Act
The procedures for filing and pursuing a claim under the Louisiana False Claims Act are somewhat similar to the procedures for claims under the False Claims Act.
The complaint must contain the caption: Medical Assistance Programs Ex Rel.: name of qui tam plaintiff(s) v. name of defendant(s). A copy of the complaint and all material evidence must be filed with the secretary or attorney general.
However, the statute of limitations for these claims is much shorter than claims under the False Claims Act. You must file a claim within one year of the date you knew or should have known of the information that forms the basis of your complaint.
Within 30 days of filing the complaint with the secretary or attorney general, you can file the complaint with the appropriate district court in Louisiana. On the day you file, you must provide notice to the secretary and attorney general.
Your complaint will be under seal for at least 90 days. If the secretary or attorney can demonstrate just cause, the 90-day time frame can be extended.
What Happens During the 90 Days?
The secretary or the attorney general will decide whether or not to join your claim. If they do, they will take control of the qui tam claim, while you can continue as a party to the action.
You and your attorney are required to fully cooperate with the secretary and attorney general throughout the qui tam action.
Unfortunately, if the secretary or attorney general want to dismiss the complaint, they can do so no matter how much you object. They simply have to file a motion and provide you a contradictory hearing on the motion.
The secretary or attorney general can also decide to settle the complaint, as long as the court determines via a hearing that the settlement is fair, adequate and reasonable given the circumstances of the claim.
If the attorney general or secretary do not join your claim, you can still proceed on your own. However, the secretary or attorney general can intervene at any time.
You will also have to serve all pleadings, filings and evidence collected during discovery to the secretary and attorney general.
Concluding a Complaint Under the Louisiana False Claims Act
After the 90 days are up, the complaint will be sent to the defendant, who will have 30 days to respond.
If your claim is successful, and the attorney general or secretary intervened, you could receive 15 to 25 percent of the recovered funds, along with compensation for costs, expenses and attorneys’ fees.
If you pursued the claim on your own, you could recover 25 to 30 percent of the recovered funds, along with reasonable attorneys’ fees.
If you participated in the violation that is the basis for your claim, the court may decide to reduce your share of the proceeds.
The Louisiana whistleblower attorneys at our firm can help you pursue a claim under the Louisiana False Claims Act.
What if my Employer Retaliates Against Me?
One of the biggest risks of filing a whistleblower claim is that your employer will retaliate against you. This could include firing, demoting, suspending or harassing you for exposing your employer's fraudulent actions.
Fortunately, there are federal and state laws that allow you to fight back against retaliation.
Federal Protection from Retaliation
Under the False Claims Act, it is illegal for an employer to engage in the following forms of retaliation against employees who file qui tam lawsuits:
- Termination of employment
- Denial of a promotion
If you file a lawsuit and prove that your employer retaliated against you over your whistleblower lawsuit, your employer will be required to provide relief to return you to the situation you are in before the retaliation occurred. Relief could include:
- Reinstatement to the position you had before retaliation occurred
- Twice the amount of back pay, with interest
- Special damages caused by retaliation, such reasonable attorneys' fees and other legal expenses
- Punitive damages
State Protection from Retaliation
Under Louisiana Revised Statute § 23:967, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who advised the employer of a violation of the law, this includes:
- Disclosing or threatening to disclose a workplace act or practice that violates state law
- Providing information or testifying before a public body that is investigating a violation of the law
- Objecting to or refusing to participate in an employment act or practice that violates that law
Under this whistleblower protection law, retaliation could include:
- Loss of benefits
- Any other discriminatory action taken as a result of actions by the employee
If you file a lawsuit over the retaliation you suffered, and you are successful, you could recover various damages, including:
- Back pay
- Reasonable attorneys’ fees
- Court costs
However, in order to be protected by Louisiana's whistleblower law, you have to inform your employer of the violation first. If you file a claim or talk to a government agency before informing your employer, you will not be protected by Louisiana's whistleblower protection law.
The Louisiana whistleblower attorneys at Simien & Simien are committed to protecting you from retaliation for your courageous action.
Louisiana Whistleblower Attorneys are Ready to Help You
Are you considering filing a whistleblower lawsuit to stop government fraud?
Your best chance of success in a qui tam lawsuit is to hire an experienced Louisiana whistleblower attorney to guide you through the legal process.
The Louisiana whistleblower attorneys at Simien & Simien understand the risk you are taking by coming forward. We are committed to defending your rights throughout your lawsuit and fighting back if you suffer retaliation from your employer.
Call our Louisiana whistleblower attorneys today. (800) 374-8422