Throughout its history, the United States Government has struggled to protect itself from dishonest companies and individuals who attempt to profit at its expense and, by extension, at the expense of its citizens. It is estimated that roughly 10% of the federal budget is paid to unscrupulous companies and persons who defraud the government by the submission of inflated or false bills for products and services, or by false statements designed to avoid payment of legitimate debt to the government. Often, private citizens may become aware of such frauds through either direct or indirect involvement (i.e., they, their employer, or their colleague is the perpetrator) or through happenstance. To encourage persons having such information to step forward, the federal government and many state governments (including California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia, and 13 others) have enacted qui tam, or "whistleblower" statutes. These provide private citizens with the right and financial incentive to obtain private lawyers and file a lawsuit - under seal - against the perpetrator. Federal or state prosecutors then review the evidence compiled by the private citizen to determine whether the government should intervene and prosecute the case, or permit the private plaintiff to proceed, acting in place of law enforcement. Whistleblower plaintiffs can in some instances obtain up to 35% of the total recovery - an incentive often equaling many millions of dollars.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, enacted July 21, 2010, expanded whistleblower rights to include individuals with knowledge of financial fraud. Under these new provisions, if a whistleblower provides original information of a fraud to the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Commodities Futures Trading Commission that results in monetary sanctions in excess of $1 million, the whistleblower can share from 10% to 30% of the amount collected. In addition, as under the False Claims Act, a whistleblower subjected to retaliation may sue for reinstatement and double back-pay owed (with interest) as well as all costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.
Given its experience in the area of whistleblower actions and the enactment of Dodd-Frank, Kirby McInerney has founded a sub-practice group to focus on securities and commodities whistleblower cases.
At Kirby McInerney, we support private citizens who become aware of a fraud against the government. Our attorneys have represented citizens filing qui tam lawsuits in California and Illinois, and are currently in the process of initiating further litigation of this nature. Our attorneys work hard to achieve maximum compensation for our clients in return for their time and honesty.