False Claims Act (whistleblower) cases are often very complicated, and the stakes can be high for the relator. At Hodgson Russ, our whistleblower lawyers provide deep knowledge of the law and extensive experience dealing with people on both sides of False Claims Act cases, which can not only make or break a case but can be invaluable in helping the relator and his or her family get through a very trying time in their lives.
The first step our firm takes in any potential False Claims Act case is to discuss the facts thoroughly with you. We study the allegations and applicable law, and we conduct any necessary factual investigations with your input and participation. We treat each case meticulously and use all of our resources to make sure your case is efficiently and effectively investigated.
If we determine that your case has merit and is worth further investigation, we discuss the particulars of our engagement with you. If you agree to hire us and we agree to the representation, we execute an engagement letter setting forth the terms of our representation.
Next, we draft a complaint and other case-initiation documents as well as a disclosure statement, which contains the evidence and other factual information that supports the complaint. The complaint is filed under seal with the appropriate court, which means that it is filed in such a way that the neither the defendant nor public knows about the case. Your identity is known only to the court and to the government at this stage; these entities must keep your identity confidential for a certain period of time.
The complaint remains under seal for a period of time (60 days, initially, under the federal statute). That period may be and usually is extended to allow the government to decide whether to intervene in the case (this means that the government effectively joins our team in the case’s prosecution and investigation). During this period, we work hand-in-hand with you and the government attorneys to help them understand and investigate the facts of the case and the evidence available to prove the allegations. Until the case is unsealed and the complaint is served on the defendant, you also share the obligation to keep your identity, and the case itself, confidential.
At some point, the decision may be made to unseal the case, and the defendant will learn about the case and your identity. Once that happens and the defendant receives the complaint, the case is litigated like most other cases, with motions and discovery. Cases with merit are resolved either through settlement or by a trial. There is no typical case. Some are resolved in a year or less, some in one or two years. Others may take several years to resolve.
At the conclusion of the case, assuming a favorable settlement or successful trial and appeal, you are entitled to share in the proceeds recovered by the government in percentage amounts set forth in the applicable statute and depending on how helpful you have been to the case.