By: Allan M. Siegel
The False Claims Act bars whistleblower claims based on information in
the public domain. What this means practically is that you can’t
file a whistleblower case based on something you read in the news (unless
you contribute your own special expertise in interpreting the news in
a non-obvious manner). The law is meant to strike a balance between encouraging
meritorious cases while simultaneously discouraging so-called “parasitic”
lawsuits based on non-original, public information. Basically, Congress
intended to prevent opportunistic lawsuits based on information that the
government already knows or already reported by the media.
Different courts have their own way of interpreting the public disclosure
and original source requirements of the False Claims Act. In the District
of Columbia Circuit, whistleblowers do not need to have been the source
of public disclosure but they still need to have filed a claim prior to
public disclosure. See United States ex rel. Findley v. FPC-Boron Employees’
Club, 105 F.3d 675 (D.C. Cir. 1997). Other Circuits disagree. The Sixth
Circuit, in particular, requires that whistleblowers file a lawsuit before
public disclosure and also to have been the source of disclosure.
In determining whether a potential claim is viable, your whistleblower
attorney will analyze whether there has been a public disclosure and if
so, whether the whistleblower was the original source of the public disclosure.
If the basis for a case has already been publicly disclosed, the whistleblower
may be ineligible to file a case unless the whistleblower was the original
source of the information.
Because courts are continually interpreting the public disclosure and
original source provisions of the False Claims Act, whistleblowers are
encouraged to seek qualified counsel when considering whether to file a
qui tam claim. At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, Siegel, P.C., our
whistleblower attorneys are prepared to provide high-caliber legal representation for whistleblowers
helping to stamp out fraud against the government.
If you have information regarding financial fraud against a government
program (common examples include overbilling, billing for unnecessary
services, and overstating costs), please
contact us today for a free consultation with an attorney.