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Are you a whistleblower? You
need to know the answer to this question:

Question: True or false? If the Government takes your whistleblower case, the case
will almost certainly end in a judgment or settlement for your side; if
the Government turns down your case, however, your chances are small.

Answer: In general, this statement is
true. While a few large cases have challenged this traditional wisdom, especially
in 2015, statistics over time show that whistleblowers who can get the
Government interested in their lawsuits tend to fare better than those
who go it alone.

How is the Government Involved in My Whistleblower Case?

Whistleblower cases are filed under seal to give the Government time to
investigate the claims.
31 U.S.C. § 3730(b)(2). Once it checks out the allegations, the U.S. has the right to “intervene”
in the case, which essentially means “take over” the case.
When the Government decides not to intervene, the whistleblower (called
a “relator”) has the right to continue with the case. At that
point the Government’s role varies from ignoring the case to following
it very closely and possibly intervening later on.

What Happens When the Government Loves Your Whistleblower Case –
and When It Doesn’t

Traditionally Department of Justice statistics show that nearly all of
the settlements and judgments in qui tam (whistleblower) cases come in
cases where the Government intervened. In fact, from 2009-2014, only about
3% of the dollars from judgments and settlements came in cases in which
the Government was
not involved.

In 2015, for the first time, the percentage of dollars coming from non-intervened
cases soared to 39%. The figure, however, was significantly skewed by
a single, large settlement in a case that the Government had declined.
Even with this major correction, however,
Department of Justice statistics show that, since 1987, only 6% of the dollars for settlements and judgments
came in qui tam cases where the Government did not intervene.

But the Government plays hard to get. Traditionally it has intervened in
only about 1 in every 5 cases – a forbidding statistic for whistleblowers
who want the Government to get involved.

Introducing a Series: “How to Make the Government Love Your Whistleblower

If the Holy Grail for whistleblowers is figuring out how to get the Government
interested in your case, what can you do to maneuver your whistleblower
case into that rarified stratosphere of cases in which the Government
decides to intervene?

Are you wondering how you can get the Government interested in your case?
You won’t want to miss the next several installments of this blog.
I will be unpacking the Top 10 Ways to Make the Government Love Your Whistleblower
Case. The entries after my initial series will give you details about
each of the 10 factors and how you can assess and strengthen your case
so that the Government bites when you throw your line in the water.

Note: Whistleblower cases are also called
qui tam cases, a Latin phrase that means that the whistleblower is filing the
case on behalf of the Government. Whistleblower cases expose fraud against
the Government.


Lee’s peers have named her a Georgia SuperLawyer every year for two decades.