Below are the rough outlines of the steps that must be taken to successfully file a case. (These steps do not apply to filing a tip with the SEC Whistleblower program).
Contact a Qui Tam Lawyer
First, and most importantly, contact an experienced lawyer because of the unique aspects of the False Claims Act, CIFPA, and MVSWA. An experienced lawyer will walk you carefully through the filing procedures. It may be helpful to ask your lawyer for examples of past qui tam settlements so you have an understanding of types of cases filed.
Filing a Qui Tam Complaint
Second, if the qui tam lawyer deems there is a False Claims Act case worth filing, the qui tam case must be filed with the appropriate court under seal. Prior to filing, make sure the lawyer makes all substantive claims and retaliation claims under the laws that protect whistleblowers.
Hand filing the case is preferable. You should contact the Clerk of the Court prior to filing to obtain the necessary documents needed for filing (these differ with different courts). When we file cases we bring a second copy to obtain a time-stamp. We also may provide a self addressed and prepaid envelope to the Clerk and ask the Court to send us back a time-stamped copy.
Serve Qui Tam Disclosure Materials
Once the complaint is filed, the attorney gathers a copy of the time-stamped complaint and all relevant disclosure materials. The attorney sends the materials to the relevant attorney generals or United States attorneys as prescribed by the False Claims Act. Typically, the attorney sends the materials via mail return-receipt requested. You should double check the statute before serving.
After the filing of the False Claims Act case and serving the disclosure materials on the government there is the relator interview. The government will contact the attorney to set up an interview of the relator-whistleblower. This is the first step in the investigation of the qui tam case. The case remains under seal during the government’s investigation.
Government Qui Tam Decision
An intervention decision is made after the government completes its investigation. After the decision the False Claims Act case comes out from under seal. Once the case is out from under seal it is either dismissed, litigated, or settled.
If the government recovers money as a result of the qui tam case filed, the whistleblower receives an award.