In my last blog entry, I talked about
Why You Want the Government to Love Your Whistleblower Case. But as a whistleblower, you may be wondering:
Just how do I get the Government interested in my case? What is it the
Government is looking for, and does my case have “it”?
The good news is that you can assess your case
and you can strengthen your case if you know what the Government is looking for. Based on my experience
as a lawyer representing whistleblowers, the Government is most likely
to get interested in your whistleblower case if you can focus the Government’s
attention on ten, specific factors about your case.
In today’s blog entry, I am going to talk about the first two, critical
factors that play into whether the Government gets interested in your
case. My next blog entries will talk about the other eight factors.
If you are thinking about filing a whistleblower case, you will not want
to miss these blog posts. Bookmark this site and get ready to read up on what you need to do to
make your whistleblower case as successful as possible.
1. Dollar value.
One of the most important factors in DOJ’s decision-making is how
much the fraud has cost the Government. True, DOJ takes into account many
factors other than the purely financial. But it is rare for DOJ to take
a case that involves fraud of only a small dollar value. DOJ has a limited
number of attorneys and investigators, and only so much money that it
can invest in investigating and pursuing qui tam cases. All things being
equal, DOJ would rather take cases where it can recover a lot of money
stolen from the Government by fraud, rather than cases where its attorneys
and staff may work just as hard but only recover a small amount of money.
The primary exception to that general observation is when a qui tam case
involves factor 2:
2. Human harm.
When the Government assesses False Claims Act lawsuits, it tends to follow
this general rule of thumb: fraud that costs the Government dollars is
bad; fraud that costs the Government dollars AND hurts people is even worse.
Why do DOJ lawyers and United States Attorneys follow this general rule?
I’m not going to try to persuade you that the Government makes touchy-feely
decisions. After all, to some degree every big organization or business
is subject to “group think” and group decision-making. But
the individuals who ultimately decide whether the Government will accept
a case have kids who eat lunch at school, parents who need wheelchairs,
and family members getting surgery. They are going to be just as incensed
as any of us are when we hear about fraudsters who fed rotten food to
schoolkids, failed to deliver wheelchairs to handicapped people, and performed
By no means does the Government limit whistleblower cases to only ones
that cause the kind of “human harm” I’m talking about
After all, purely financial fraud does its own kind of harm to taxpayers
and the Government fisc. But when the Government sees a situation where
the fraud being perpetrated is actually hurting people, that fact can
make an already-interesting case even more interesting, or boost a marginal
case into a top-priority position.