Federal and state governments increasingly rely on “whistleblowers” to report businesses that allegedly violate laws and regulations and reward those whistleblowers with a “bounty” from any financial recovery made as a result of the whistleblower’s complaint. Best known of the whistleblower statutes, the False Claims Act (FCA) provides for broad liability and ruinous penalties, and as a result has seen an explosion nationwide of FCA investigations and litigation. No longer just an anti-fraud statute, the FCA is increasingly applied in simple contract disputes with the federal government and disagreements concerning the meaning of ambiguous regulations. In the last few years, federal agencies, many states, and in some instances, even cities have instituted their own whistleblower bounty laws and programs, such as the SEC’s Dodd-Frank Act, the IRS’ Whistleblower Office and Florida’s civil False Claims Act. As a result, companies that do business with state or federal governments or public corporations are faced with the challenge of how to best protect themselves.
Phelps Dunbar has a team of lawyers with extensive knowledge and expertise in advising and defending clients with regard to FCA investigations and actions, including two former United States Attorneys. Their experience includes conducting internal investigations, representing clients during government investigations of sealed qui tams, and successfully defending FCA qui tam claims. Additionally, Phelps Dunbar lawyers have considerable experience in defending whistleblower retaliation suits pursuant to FCA and other state anti-retaliation statutes.
We also work with clients in developing strategies to mitigate risk, including developing internal policies and compliance programs tailored to each company. We have successfully advised several federal health care providers to make appropriate self-disclosure in order to avoid FCA liability.
We provide insight and experience to clients in a number of industries where FCA allegations tend to happen, primarily health care, insurance and construction.