You should present the specific evidence that you have gathered concerning the fraud to an attorney who specializes in Whistleblower claims. Whistleblower law has many unique characteristics not usually taught in law school or encountered in a day-to-day legal practice. As with any specialty, there is no substitute for experience in evaluating the facts of each claim along with the legal strengths and weaknesses. Experience with the federal government as an Assistant U.S. Attorney or Department of Justice Attorney specializing in fraud cases, can provide a key indicator of an attorney’s qualifications to handle a Whistleblower’s case.
A Whistleblower reporting fraud involving government funds is referred to as a “relator.” A relator is a private citizen, often-times an “insider” at the organization where the fraud is committed, who provides (“relates”) original information that ultimately results in a recovery of government money. The relator is entitled to a share of the recovery, usually ranging from 15 to 30 percent, depending upon the quality of the information provided and the importance of the relator’s role in securing the ultimate recovery of the funds. For example, a relator who “wears a wire” to obtain evidence of fraud might ask for a higher percentage of the recovery than a relator who made a written report at the outset of the case, but did not participate in the investigation. The law also provides protection from retaliation in the form of firing or demotion by the employer for the Whistleblower.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Joseph Rossi heads the Whistleblower Practice at Drew, Cooper & Anding. Joe served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Michigan from 2002 until 2010, where he specialized in evaluating Whistleblower cases. In fact, Joe evaluated every Whistleblower case filed in the Western District of Michigan during that time period. Joe successfully obtained multimillion dollar judgments and settlements in both health care and other types of financial fraud cases.
Joe founded West Michigan's first specialized Whistleblower practice in 2010 at Drew, Cooper & Anding, recognizing that the firm's expertise and both complex commercial and employment cases provided the perfect setting for West Michigan's first Whistleblower's practice. Joe also writes and speaks on Whistleblower's law to educate other lawyers.
Drew, Cooper & Anding will evaluate your case free of charge. In the event that we accept your case and file a False Claims Act lawsuit, we will continue to represent you free of charge in return for the statutory attorneys fees claimed at the end of the case and a percentage of the relator’s fee, all of which are contingent upon successful resolution of the case. In short, you will not be charged for case evaluation or representation unless your case results in a financial award.
The False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. § 3729), sometimes referred to as the “Qui Tam” statute, targets individuals and businesses who cheat the government. A false claim occurs when a person or company claims federal or state money that they are not entitled to receive. The Act provides the government the ability to recover up to three (3) times the amount taken by fraud, plus penalties, for each false claim submitted. The State of Michigan, along with many other states, also has a False Claims Act containing severe penalties for fraud against state Medicaid programs.
Potential false claims include doctors who bill for treatment that is never provided, or procedures that are not medically necessary. An example from local headlines is the case of Dr. Robert Stokes, a Grand Rapids Dermatologist convicted of billing Medicare, as well as other insurance companies, for complex procedures when in reality he was only providing simple (and often unnecessary) removal of skin blemishes. Drug manufacturers have paid significant penalties resulting from allegations of over pricing, or “off label” promotion of pharmaceuticals.
False claims also might be submitted by a contractor supplying the United States military equipment or parts that are defective, thereby endangering our troops and defrauding our taxpayers. In summary, anytime the government pays for something and gets less than full value in return, a False Claim may exist.
Please contact us if you believe you may have a claim.