Since Congress reworked the False Claims Act during the Reagan years, the government has awarded over $50 billion to whistleblowers. These individuals are legally entitled to as much as 30 percent of the amount of money the government saved. Frequently, however, the money is not the best reason to pursue a qui tam whistleblower claim.
Additionally, when qui tam claimants expose fraud, the wrongdoers change the way they do business, and that protects everyone. That’s a powerful reason to pursue a whistleblower claim, but in many cases, it’s not the best reason.
In addition to compensation and justice, a Kansas City qui tam attorney can obtain other benefits for whistleblowers. These additional benefits could significantly improve their lives, and the lives of their families. Claimants do not need money to hire lawyers. Typically, Kansas City qui tam attorneys work on a contingent fee basis.
For many years, it was difficult or impossible to successfully bring qui tam whistleblower actions. Corporate defendants could get these actions thrown out of court if the plaintiff’s evidence was anything less than overwhelming. The same thing could happen if the whistleblower signed anything which remotely resembled a confidentiality agreement.
Now, things are different. If plaintiffs make a prima facie case, judges generally allow these actions to move forward. The same thing could be true if the plaintiff arguably signed a non-disclosure agreement.
The removal of these procedural hurdles makes it easier to settle these cases on plaintiff-friendly terms. If corporate defendants cannot immediately get these claims thrown out of court, they often quit fighting.
Some SEC whistleblowers are not entitled to full employment protections. Frequently, however, a qui tam action is the best way, or even the only way, to stop employer adverse actions like:
If employers retaliate against whistleblowers, these individuals could have a separate cause of action. So, these protections are quite strong. They apply to some situations that the Civil Rights Act and other employment laws do not cover.
Lower Burden of Proof
Once upon a time, whistleblowers had to establish facts by clear and convincing evidence. That’s a standard of proof just below beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard of proof in Missouri law.
Now, whistleblowers must only establish facts by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Picture two stacks of paper of equal size which are side by side. If someone moves one sheet of paper from the left to the right, the stack on the right is taller than the one on the left. That’s a picture of a preponderance of the evidence.
Once again, this lower burden of proof makes it easier to settle these claims. Corporate defendants know that it is almost impossible to defend these claims once a jury considers all the evidence.
Qui tam lawsuits protect whistleblowers in a number of ways. For a free consultation with an experienced whistleblower lawyer in Kansas City, contact the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm. Virtual, home, and after-hours visits are available.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.