Whistleblower Lawsuits: A 101 Guide
Whistleblower lawsuits have been very much in the news recently, and with good reason. Depending upon the specific situation, a successful whistleblower case can not only put a stop to wrongdoing that robs the American taxpayer, but can also richly reward the whistleblower who was courageous enough to come forward. A recent record-breaking case saw a former mortgage executive receive $57.6 million dollars for blowing the whistle on his former company. But what exactly is a whistleblower lawsuit? Here are the basics:
What is a whistleblower?
A whistleblower is a person who learns of an organization’s wrongdoing, such as fraud, corruption or other illegal activity, and turns their organization in to the appropriate agency or agencies. In most cases, a whistleblower is an employee, but they can also be a supplier, a contractor, or anybody else who has inside information. Being a whistleblower takes courage, patience, and fortitude. The whistleblowing process is highly specific and must be followed to the letter, and can put the whistleblower at risk for illegal retaliation by the company they report.
What is a whistleblower lawsuit?
There are many different kinds of whistleblower lawsuits, including qui tam suits which involve fraud against the government, Securities and Exchange suits ad Commodities Futures Trading Commission suits for violations of the Dodd-Frank Act, and Internal Revenue Services suits for federal tax fraud and underpayment. When an individual learns of wrongdoing and reports fraud, they are known as “relators,” but in order to be bring a case there is a specific procedure that must be followed.
Filing a whistleblower lawsuit
To file a whistleblower lawsuit, a complaint must be carefully prepared laying out the case and evidence against the company, and it must be filed under seal in a United States District Court, with a copy also being sent to the Attorney General of the United States. The contents are kept under seal for at least sixty days, and are not made known to the company or to the public while the government reviews the allegations. The seal can be extended for as long as the government needs.
Once the government has reviewed the case, they will notify both the whistleblower and the court as to whether they will intervene or become involved. If they choose to get involved, then they will take the legal lead in litigation. If the government chooses not to become involved, then the whistleblower can still pursue the case on his own on behalf of the government.
In order to be allowed to file a whistleblower case, the person who files the complaint must be the first to do so. It is also essential that the case is properly prepared for the filing and that it is filed within the statute of limitations.. This is why it is so important that anybody who possesses inside information about wrongdoing within a company act quickly and seek representation by a seasoned attorney with experience in whistleblower lawsuits.
The Rewards of Being a Whistleblower
In addition to the moral reward of knowing that they have put a stop to illegal activity, whistleblowers are entitled to share between fifteen and thirty percent of any recovery that the government receives as a result of a whistleblower lawsuit. The monetary awards can add up quickly, particularly if the case involves multiple instances of wrongdoing.
If you are in possession of information about wrongdoing by a company and you are considering filing a whistleblower lawsuit, it is essential that you have knowledgeable, experienced legal counsel by your side. The whistleblower lawsuit lawyers at Bochetto & Lentz have a long record of successfully pursuing whistleblower lawsuits.
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