How Long Does a Whistleblower Case Take?

By Shauna Itri

While fraud can be pursued by the government, many times a fraud investigation is initiated by the filing of a False Claims Act case. If an individual or group of individuals has evidence of fraud being committed against the government, they can seek to file a lawsuit under the Federal or State False Claims Acts. The False Claims Act allows for individuals with such evidence and knowledge to file cases with the government. If the government recovers money from such a case, the individual may be entitled to an award or a percentage of the recovery.

First Phase: Filing the Whistleblower Complaint and Government Investigation 

If an individual or group of individuals has a meritorious case and an attorney files a False Claims Act case on their behalf, an investigation into the case commences. While the False Claims Act case is under seal, the government conducts an investigation. During the investigation, the prosecutor assigned to the case will likely reach out to the government agency involved to obtain the agency’s thoughts/opinion on the case, gather and review the government’s own claims data to assess the size of the case, and decide on a plan to investigate the facts.

In order to investigate the facts, the government might issue a “civil investigatory demand” or “CID” to the alleged defendants to obtain documents, while simultaneously seek and interview former employees. If the government wishes, it might reach out to the alleged defendant to interview or depose current employees of the company or present the allegations in the complaint to the defendant (without disclosing the whistleblower’s identity or the fact that a case has been filed) and ask the defendant to respond.

Second Phase: Complaint is Unsealed and Whistleblower Case is Litigated

At the conclusion of the government’s investigation of a False Claims Act case, the government will make a decision as to whether or not it will intervene or pursue the case or decline the case. At that time, the case comes out from under seal. If the case goes forward, the alleged defendant is served with the complaint.

The length of time for drafting the complaint and the government’s investigation varies depending on, among other things:

  1. The complexity of the case
  2. How many defendants are named
  3. The government’s resources
  4. The amount of information given by the whistleblower
  5. If the court grants seal extensions
  6. How cooperative the defendant is in the investigation

Typically, it takes several months for an attorney to pull together and file the complaint, and the government investigation takes around 1-2 years, but can take up to as much as 10 depending on the case.

Upon serving the whistleblower complaint, litigation commences. Essentially, as with complex litigation, this portion of the case can also take several years to either reach settlement, verdict, or be dismissed depending on, among other things:

  1. The complexity of the case
  2. How many defendants are named
  3. The court’s rulings/extensions
  4. How cooperative the defendant is in the investigation
  5. If any issues are taken up on appeal

Conclusion: Whistleblower Cases Can Take Many Years to Investigate and Litigate to Conclusion

As with most complex litigation, many factors are considered when estimating the length of time until a whistleblower case comes to a conclusion. In sum, a whistleblower lawsuit can take anywhere from under a year to decades. However, most whistleblower lawsuits are expected to take at least several years.

Contact Us to Learn More

Do you need a Whistleblower Lawyer or want to know more information about Qui Tam Law and your rights under the False Claims Act?

There are three easy ways to contact our firm for a free, confidential evaluation with one of our whistleblower attorneys:

  1. Fill out the contact form on this page.
  2. Email quitam@bm.net
  3. Call (800) 424-6690

Your information will be reviewed by a Berger Montague qui tam attorney and remain confidential.

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By | 2018-07-25T10:00:57+00:00 April 18th, 2018|False Claims Act Information|