Preparing Your Whistleblower Claim in South Carolina
Imagine this scenario: You work at a company where you discover that someone, or maybe even a group of persons, is committing fraud against the government. You believe that your evidence is solid and, after much deliberation, you decide to blow the whistle and report the wrongdoing. The only problem? You have no idea what your first step is—whom to talk to, what forms to file, or what evidence you might need.
Whistleblowers perform a valuable service by protecting the public interest. At the Louthian Law Firm, we admire those who are willing to step forward and bring fraud to light, and we are here should the term “whistleblower” describe you. With our help, you can prepare your qui tam claim in such a way as to produce the greatest amount of success.
What Does “Bringing a Whistleblower Claim” Mean?
If you discover information about fraudulent billings against the government—for example, false claims submitted to government healthcare programs like Medicare, or defense contractor fraud—you would bring what is called a qui tam suit. The term qui tam is shorthand for a Latin phrase denoting that you are suing on behalf of the king—meaning the government. When you bring a qui tam suit, you must structure your claim in order to convince the government to intervene, or join your suit, to have the greatest chance of success. The Louthian Law Firm can assist you with this.
However, you will need to ensure that your information is clear and substantive, which likely requires you to do some work before you speak with us. As the person who knows the most about the wrongdoing, you will have to supply the details of the fraudulent activity, which means locating the proper information.
What Information Do I Need to Bring a Suit?
As soon as you are sure that you want to pursue a whistleblowing suit, begin keeping records of everything you know concerning the fraudulent activity. Be sure to do so at a location other than your work, and create backups of the material you have written, either by photocopy or electronic copy (such as a flash drive or in the cloud). You will need a secure location to store the backed-up information. However, do not give it to someone else to hold for you; more on why later.
The sorts of information you should write down include:
- Precisely what happened with regard to the fraud. Details count and accuracy is paramount. Do not exaggerate or otherwise distort what actually happened.
- The regulations or laws you think were broken.
- The starting date of the fraud.
- The ending date of the fraud, if it has ended.
- Approximately how much money is/was involved in the fraud. You should include documentation spelling out how you came up with your figure.
- Who is involved in the fraud. Include names, company positions, what these people know, and so on.
- Document whether the persons involved in the fraud still work at the company.
- Document whether the persons involved in the fraud will be hostile or friendly witnesses.
- Document the names of any supervisors who might know more about the fraud.
- List each file that contains information supporting your claim, along with each file’s location and how it is stored (paper or electronic).
- Document whether you personally were a part of the fraud. It is critical that you tell the truth about any involvement, because you can still bring a case even if you took part in the fraud. The government realizes that you may have been pressured into cooperating with the fraud.
- Document the company’s organizational structure as completely as possible. You must include the entire company in your organizational chart, especially the divisions or sections involved in fraudulent activity.
It is important that you not tell anyone what you are doing while you are documenting your information. Many reasons exist for remaining quiet, but a crucial one is that only the first person who brings the case can be considered for an award should the suit be successful.
At this point, you may be feeling discouraged.
We recognize that documenting everything is hard work. However, clear, concise material that includes all relevant details is absolutely essential to gaining the government’s involvement. A case is much more likely to succeed if the government intervenes, so the more evidence you gather to support the case you want to bring, the more powerful and persuasive your case will be.
But I Don’t Have All the Files!
In the event that you do not have access to or possession of any files required to bring your case, and these files are in some way off-limits to you, do not remove the files from the office in such a way that your safety or your case is jeopardized. If, for example, the files are in someone else’s office, legal ways exist to access them. Do not take information that is not legally yours. This instruction goes for both paper files and electronic files. If you do not have the appropriate file or network permissions, do not hack or otherwise break regulations or laws.
What Comes Next?
At this point you have gotten your information together, have met with an attorney, and have decided to bring the case. Here are the next steps that generally happen with a qui tam case.
- Your lawyer will prepare the official statement.
- Your lawyer will file the statement with the government.
- Your lawyer will create and file an official complaint, which will be served to the government along with the evidence.
At this point, the government will make the decision whether to intervene. This process may take several months. If the government decides to intervene, either you will go to trial, or the case will be settled. If the government declines to intervene, you and your lawyer will meet to decide whether to go forward with the case on your own.
Blowing the Whistle? We Can Help You with Your Next Step.
If you think you have the facts needed to bring a whistleblower case, the experienced whistleblower attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm can review your case and help you file the appropriate disclosure statement. Under some circumstances, the government will intervene, or join in your lawsuit.
Your chances of succeeding are greater if your whistleblower claim is substantive, clear, and to the point.
Because of this, meeting with a qualified whistleblower attorney can increase your chances of winning. The Louthian Law Firm can help you form your claim so that the government will be more inclined to intervene in your case; government intervention can sometimes increase the chances of recovering reward money. Even if the government decides not to intervene, it could still be a good idea to pursue your case without government involvement. Our strong support system can assist you through every step of the process.
For a free, confidential evaluation of your case, call the Louthian Law Firm today at 1-803-454-1200 or, if you prefer, you can fill out our online contact form.