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Miami Whistleblower Lawyer

Uncovering Fraud & Pursuing Justice

If you are aware that a corporation is acting fraudulently against a state or federal government, you may be able to take legal action as a private citizen to put a stop to deceitful activities and help the government collect what it is owed. In doing so, you may be entitled to collect up to 30% of any financial recovery made by the government as a result of your insider information.

The federal government enacted the False Claims Act in 1863, and several states have passed similar measures to stop fraudulent conduct and protect the government and whistleblowers against dishonest and retaliatory activities. These laws also incentivize those with insider information to become whistleblowers and report fraud through whistleblower lawsuits – sometimes called “qui tam” actions.

At Freidin Brown, P.A., our Miami whistleblower lawyers have successfully represented whistleblowers who have uncovered fraudulent schemes against the government and have recovered millions on behalf of the government. If your whistleblower lawsuit is successful, you may be eligible to share in a portion of the government’s financial recovery. Generally, this share can be between 15% and 30% of the money recovered by the government, but the specific amount varies greatly depending on the facts of each case. Freidin Brown, P.A. regularly partners with Guttman, Buschner & Brooks, a firm of nationally-recognized lawyers who focus their entire practice on pursuing justice for frauds committed against the government.

Whistleblower Rights and Protections

In enacting False Claims Act laws, the federal government and several states encourage private citizens to blow the whistle on activities that cheat the government. Federal and state agencies regularly rely on information from whistleblowers to enforce compliance with the law. Often, whistleblowers take action to unmask fraud at great personal or professional risk to themselves, particularly when a whistleblower exposes the wrongful conduct of his or her employer.

At Freidin Brown, P.A. we know these decisions are not made lightly, and we work to ensure that whistleblowers receive every protection against discrimination and retaliation available under the law.

  • Until and unless a court orders otherwise, the government’s whistleblower investigations are conducted confidentially.
  • Lawyer-client privilege prevents a whistleblower’s lawyer from disclosing any information about the case – not even the whistleblower’s identity.
  • A whistleblower who experiences discrimination or retaliation for her lawful efforts to expose fraud may be eligible for compensation and other remedies.

At Freidin Brown, P.A., we work hard to make sure our whistleblower clients are fully advised of their rights, responsibilities, and remedies before, during, and after bringing a lawsuit under the False Claims Act. If you have information about a possible fraud against the government, contact us today for a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL initial consultation.

Medicare and Medicaid Fraud

Medicare, Medicaid, and other government healthcare programs account for large amounts of annual federal spending. As healthcare expenses continue to increase, the resources and time that are consumed by making payments and processing claims leave less time and resources available for verifying claims. As a result, Medicare and Medicaid often pay submitted claims without time to investigate them for fraud. This has led to nationwide fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims, and South Florida has become known as “ground zero” for Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

Because minimal amounts of resources are available to investigate fraudulent claims, the government must depend on private parties to report fraud. If you are aware of fraudulent Medicare or Medicaid claims that have been submitted, you may be able to file a qui tam suit under the False Claims Act. Because you are providing assistance to the government, the law can protect you from retaliation and provide you with monetary incentives.

In 2017, Freidin Brown, P.A. lawyers recovered millions for the United States Government after their client, a doctor at a medical clinic in Florida, came forward with allegations of “upcoding” and fraudulent claims submitted to Medicare under the Medicare Advantage (Part C) program.

Florida Whistleblower FAQs

What is a “whistleblower”?

A whistleblower is a private citizen, often an “insider,” who has evidence that a person or organization is committing a fraud against the government. A whistleblower can file a lawsuit on behalf of the government, alleging the fraud and seeking recovery of the government’s damages. If a lawsuit is successful, the whistleblower may be eligible to share in a portion of the government’s financial recovery.

What does “qui tam” mean?

The phrase “qui tam” is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipson in hac parte sequitur, which means “the person who sues in this matter for the king as well as for himself.” Under ancient English law, qui tam allowed subjects of the crown to enforce the king’s legislative priorities, and to encourage such actions, the informers were financially rewarded for their participation.

Today, the phrase “qui tam” is often used interchangeably with “whistleblower,” and refers to a lawsuit brought pursuant to the federal False Claims Act or its equivalent under state law. In a modern qui tam lawsuit, a private citizen sues another party to enforce the rights of the government.

What is a “relator”?

“Relator” is the legal term used to refer to the private citizen, or whistleblower, who brings a False Claims Act lawsuit on behalf of the government.

What is the False Claims Act?

The False Claims Act is a federal law codified as 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733. The law provides that any person or organization who knowing submits a false claim to the government is liable for treble damages, in addition to a financial penalty for each instance of making a false claim. A False Claims Act lawsuit may be filed by the government, or by a whistleblower acting on the government’s behalf. To encourage private citizens to report false claims, the False Claims Act offers a percentage of the government’s recovery as a reward to the initial whistleblower.

What fraudulent actions can be the basis for a whistleblower lawsuit?

A whistleblower can initiate a lawsuit on behalf of the federal government for certain types of fraudulent activities, including:

  • Knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval
  • Knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim
  • Knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used, a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay the government
  • Knowingly concealing, avoiding, or decreasing an obligation to pay the government
  • Conspiring to commit a false or fraudulent claim

The False Claims Act requires that the person or organization who made the false claim acted knowingly, meaning that there was actual knowledge, deliberate ignorance, or reckless disregard of the falsity.

In addition to the federal False Claims Act, some states, including Florida, have enacted legislation that allows whistleblower lawsuits to be brought on behalf of the state.

Can a whistleblower file a lawsuit on behalf of a state government?

While the False Claims Act originated under federal law, and most whistleblower lawsuits are filed in federal court, many states, including Florida, have enacted similar statutes to allow private citizens to bring a case alleging fraud against a state government.

The Florida False Claims Act is a state law codified as Section 68.081-68.092, Florida Statutes, and is very similar to the federal law.

Who can file a whistleblower lawsuit?

Any person with evidence about a fraud against the government can file a whistleblower lawsuit on behalf of the government. However, there are some circumstances in which a whistleblower claim might be dismissed, such as when the government has already filed a False Claims Act case or when the whistleblower has been convicted of a crime related to his or her role in the fraud.

The law governing whistleblower lawsuits is constantly evolving.

What protections are available for whistleblowers?

When a whistleblower lawsuit is first filed, it is filed under seal while the government investigates the allegations in the complaint. While the case remains under seal, the allegations and the whistleblower’s identity remain confidential. The defendant does not see a copy of the complaint until and unless the seal is lifted by a judge. Once the seal is lifted, all of the information contained in the complaint may become public record.

Many laws and regulations have been enacted to protect whistleblowers from being discriminated or retaliated against for their actions in blowing the whistle. A person who experiences discrimination or harassment for blowing the whistle may be entitled to compensation.

It is important that whistleblowers understand all of their rights and protections when making the decision to step forward.

What happens when a whistleblower lawsuit is filed?

When a whistleblower lawsuit is first filed, it is filed confidentially under seal. A copy of the complaint and a written disclosure of all information that provides the basis for the complaint is served on the government, which is required to investigate the allegations. During the government investigation, the case remains confidential and under seal; the defendant does not see a copy of the complaint until and unless the seal is lifted by a judge.

At the conclusion of the government’s investigation, the government must advise the court if it will intervene in the case or if it is declining to take over the action. If the government intervenes in the case, it will assume primary responsibility for prosecuting the case. If the government does not intervene, the whistleblower may choose to proceed in the action without the government’s assistance.

What does it mean for the government to intervene in a whistleblower lawsuit?

If the government intervenes in a whistleblower lawsuit, it will take over primary responsibility for litigating the case. The whistleblower remains a party in the case and maintains rights and responsibilities in the lawsuit.

The government can choose to settle or dismiss the case, so long as the whistleblower is given the opportunity to exercise his or her rights in a hearing before the court. A whistleblower may only seek to settle or dismiss a case with the government’s agreement.

If the government intervenes in a whistleblower lawsuit and recovers against the defendant, the whistleblower may be entitled to receive 15% to 20% of the government’s recovery, in addition to legal fees and costs paid by the defendant.

What happens if the government does not intervene in a whistleblower lawsuit?

If the government does not intervene in a whistleblower lawsuit, the whistleblower may choose to proceed with the case and assume primary responsibility for litigation the action. The government remains a party and maintains rights and responsibilities in the lawsuit. On a showing of good cause, the government may be permitted to intervene at a later date.

Even if the government does not intervene in a case, a whistleblower may only seek to settle or dismiss a case with the government’s agreement.

If the government does not intervene in a whistleblower lawsuit and the whistleblower recovers against the defendant on the government’s behalf, the whistleblower may be entitled to receive 25% to 30% of the government’s recovery, in addition to legal fees and costs paid by the defendant.

Does the whistleblower share in the government’s financial recovery?

The False Claims Act includes a provision that specifically entitles a whistleblower to receive a reward if the government recovers from the defendant in a whistleblower case. This recovery supports the public policy of encouraging people to blow the whistle when a fraud is being perpetrated against the government.

If the government intervenes in a whistleblower lawsuit and recovers against the defendant, the whistleblower may be entitled to receive 15% to 20% of the government’s recovery, in addition to legal fees and costs paid by the defendant.

If the government does not intervene in a whistleblower lawsuit and the whistleblower recovers against the defendant on the government’s behalf, the whistleblower may be entitled to receive 25% to 30% of the government’s recovery, in addition to legal fees and costs paid by the defendant.

Additionally, laws and regulations have been enacted to protect whistleblowers from being discriminated or retaliated against for their actions in blowing the whistle. A person who experiences discrimination, retaliation, or harassment for blowing the whistle may be entitled to compensation.

What does it cost to bring a whistleblower lawsuit?

At Freidin Brown, P.A. we handle all cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not charge legal fees unless we recover compensation for our clients.

Instead, we cover the cost of all expenses related to the case. Reimbursement for our services is taken from a portion of the whistleblower’s recovery in the case and is sometimes paid by the defendant when the law allows. If for some reason we don’t win the case, our clients will not owe us anything.

How does a whistleblower initiate a case?

Initiating a case under the federal False Claims Act or its state-based equivalents must be done in accordance with all applicable laws. If the laws are not followed, the claim may be dismissed or the whistleblower may not be protected from discrimination. Before a person raises a claim or undertakes an investigation of possible fraud, it is strongly recommended that all whistleblowers seek counsel from a qualified lawyer.

Florida Whistleblower Video FAQs

What is a whistleblower or qui tam case?

A whistleblower case is a case where a private citizen, an individual brings a claim on behalf of the government under what’s called the False Claims Act, either under the federal law or the state law. Under the False Claims Act, an individual who has knowledge that someone else, be it another person or a corporation, is doing something to defraud the government, that individual can blow the whistle on the person doing the fraud on behalf of the government.

What is a whistleblower?

A whistleblower is somebody who comes forward and exposes a fraud on the government, whether that’s some sort of Medicare fraud, whether that’s some sort of Medicaid fraud or just cheating on another form of government contract. It’s generally an insider with inside knowledge of the fraud that’s being perpetuated on the government.

What laws protect whistleblowers?

Whistleblowers are protected under the False Claims Act by the confidentiality rules, which ensure that when a person first steps forward with their lawyer to the government to expose the fraud by someone else, the initial investigation is done under seal and confidentially. Which means that the person or company who’s perpetrating the fraud doesn’t find out about the whistleblower’s identity until and unless a court orders the case to be unsealed.             

Second, whistleblowers are always protected by the attorney client privilege. Anything they share with their lawyer is protected by confidentiality until and unless the whistleblower gives the lawyer permission to go forward with the information.       

And then finally, because many whistleblowers are insiders, they work for a corporation or for a person who is perpetrating a fraud on the government. There are special employment laws and regulation that protect lawful whistleblowers against defamatory action or retaliatory action.

Who can bring a whistleblower or qui tam case?

Any person with knowledge about a fraud that is being perpetrated against the government can bring a whistleblower or a qui tam case against the person or a company that’s perpetrating the fraud on behalf of the government. There are rules about who can be that person. And one of the most important rules is called the First in Time Rule. If someone else has already filed a whistleblower action against a corporation, another person can’t step in and bring a second action on the same basis.

Contact Our Experienced Miami Whistleblower Lawyers Today

Whistleblower lawsuits must be initiated in accordance with all applicable laws in order to obtain compensation and protection under the law. If the laws are not followed exactly as written when reporting the fraud, the claim may be dismissed or the whistleblower may not be protected from discrimination or retaliation. This is why it is strongly recommended that all whistleblowers seek counsel from qualified and experience lawyers who have had success in this area of law. If you have information about a possible fraud against the government, contact our Miami whistleblower lawyers today for a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL consultation.

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