If you’ve been faced with a whistleblower, your company may find that it’s under significant strain. Trust can diminish, morale may drop, and your reputation could suffer. You could be targeted by the Department of Justice or the Inspector General and face significant charges and other consequences.
With the situation escalating, you may also start seeing financial issues, loss of clients, and even a loss of employees who don’t want to be associated with or implicated in the issue. Government contractors and civilian employees may want to distance themselves from a company in danger. However, there is a practical solution to these threats.
You need legal representation to protect you from accusations and clear your company’s good name so you can keep moving forward and past the issues. Contacting an experienced whistleblower and false claim defense attorney is crucial. At Jack Webb Law Group, our law firm can address the legal aspects and take steps to help manage the narrative for your company. We can help stabilize the company, safeguarding its standing in the community and the livelihoods of your employees and others involved.
What is the False Claims Act?
When fraud results in a financial loss for the federal government, someone can file a false claims act (FCA) suit. Individuals can file a false claims act suit on behalf of the government against businesses and companies that have defrauded the government in some manner. This is known as a qui tam action. A private citizen filing one of these claims is serious and can have significant and dire consequences for a company. If this kind of claim has been filed against your company, a good defense should be your ultimate goal.
Defending yourself and your company against a claim made to the federal government isn’t something you want to take on by yourself. Whether it’s Medicare or Medicaid fraud, another type of healthcare fraud, or a different kind of issue, false claims act cases need a strong defense. To get that defense, you want to look for a Jacksonville false claim act attorney who is trusted to protect people and companies facing these issues.
How a False Claim Affects Your Company
A false claim or whistleblower can negatively impact your company’s finances and reputation. You want to mitigate that as much as possible, reducing the damage done to your company quickly and efficiently. There have been companies irreparably damaged by false claims and whistleblowers, and you don’t want your company to be one of them.
Working with a whistleblower retaliation attorney or false claims act investigation attorney can give you peace of mind and the support you need to move through the legal system and protect your company’s rights. While it can be a difficult and distressing time dealing with these claims and accusations, an attorney’s help and support can go a long way toward settling the issue and moving on.
Penalty for Violating the False Claims Act in Florida
If a whistleblower case is successful, it could harm your SEC trading ability and end in individual prosecutions for you and some of your employees. You must consider the federal consequences and potential state penalties from the Florida false claims act. You may be facing just one claim, or both, and penalties add up quickly.
You may be required to pay up to three times the damage amount and civil penalties for each claim. With numerous claims, fines can rapidly total millions of dollars. The false claims act can also result in criminal penalties, including up to five years of prison time and an inability to continue participating in government-funded programs. That may devastate your bottom line, making it impossible to keep up with your competitors.
Elements of a False Claim in Florida
A false claim suit must meet certain requirements. The federal prosecutor has to demonstrate that:
- A false claim was made
- The claimant had full knowledge that it was false
- The claim was material in receiving payment
- The government paid money toward the claim
If the prosecutor cannot prove one or more of these elements, there may not be a case. The government has to pay out money to claim damages because that payout comes from the taxpayers, who the government is supposed to protect. Paying false claims lowers the amount of money used for other programs, potentially putting other citizens at risk.
Can You Fire the Suspected Whistleblower?
It’s generally not a good idea to fire an employee suspected of being a whistleblower solely because of the suspicion. This is typically called retaliation and would mean that the suspected whistleblower would have more credibility in their case to sue.
That doesn’t mean you couldn’t fire the whistleblower for another reason, but you would have to show that other reason as being fully documented and very valid. If you can avoid firing someone you suspect is a whistleblower, that will help protect yourself and your company. If you must fire a suspected whistleblower, you should work with a skilled whistleblower retaliation attorney to defend your company against accusations of retaliation.
Defense Against False Claims in Jacksonville, Florida
Defending your company against false claims is critical. One of the legal defenses for your company could be that the company lacked the intent or knowledge to be found guilty. In other words, they weren’t doing anything deliberately and didn’t know what they were doing was wrong.
In addition to lack of intent or knowledge, other defenses your false claims act investigation attorney can present include using the statute of limitations, entrapment, government misconduct, and issues surrounding truthful and accurate representation.
Lack of Intent
Lack of intent is a common defense in a whistleblower claim. That’s because it often works if your whistleblower lawyer can show that you weren’t doing anything with the intent to cause harm. Whether it’s the state government or the federal government that’s involved, the goal is to work with your whistleblower attorney to show your company’s innocence in the case.
This is another common defense. Claiming no scienter means you didn’t understand that what you were doing is wrong. Jacksonville trial attorneys who are helping you with your case will work to show the U.S. attorney general and the court that you were taking actions that you thought were safe and allowed under the law.
Level of Knowledge
The level of knowledge you had regarding your actions at the time you took them can help protect you in a qui tam lawsuit. Claims act lawyers understand that not everyone knows their actions can be a problem. They’ll use their confidential attorney-client relationship with you to discuss the extent of your knowledge and make a case to protect you from the State of Florida or the federal government.
If there wasn’t any damage or the actions didn’t cause any event that a reasonable person would find important, there’s no materiality. That can help protect you because it indicates that what took place wasn’t anything that really mattered. If there’s no materiality, there’s no harm and no case for damages.
Involve a Jacksonville Whistleblower Defense Attorney Sooner Rather Than Later
It’s best to hire an attorney for whistleblower protection when the problem first arises, early in the process of a whistleblower case. You need legal advice right away when federal law and the federal false claims act are involved because of the severity of the consequences.
Additionally, it can take time to settle this type of case. You don’t want to try to move through it alone, and you certainly don’t want to ignore the issue or hope it goes away on its own. It won’t. Whether it’s kickbacks, a false statement, or some type of defrauding issue, an attorney can help you protect what matters.
The reputation of your company is at stake. Get in touch with an experienced Jacksonville business lawyer at Jack Webb Law Group today, and get a case evaluation to help you make decisions to protect the future of your company.
Get in touch with us today at 904-803-4686, or reach out to us using our contact form. We’re here to help you get the assistance and support you need to reduce your risk. Then you can navigate the legal waters with strong representation, giving you the confidence to get your whistleblower case settled and put it behind you.