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EVERY WHISTLEBLOWER

HAS A STORY TO TELL…

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whistleblower attorneys representing whistleblowers Nationwide

Trusted Whistleblower Law Firm with a Passion for Justice

After many years of working together prosecuting False Claims Act lawsuits, Atlanta-based whistleblower attorneys Julie Bracker and Jason Marcus decided to establish a qui tam litigation firm dedicated to supporting whistleblowers, helping them report fraud, and returning money to the government.
Their breadth of knowledge and years of experience allow Bracker & Marcus to offer expert guidance on your qui tam case from the first report through litigation.

READ OUR REVIEWS

This was a serious case; many lives were at stake and it is my belief that their swift action to take this case, and push towards a resolution was instrumental in saving lives. I have only the highest marks, praise for Jason, Julie and the Bracker & Marcus team. They handled my case with extreme professionalism, Their knowledge of the law and team working ability is second to none.

-Charles J.

It appeared that everyone else was only looking at the $$. Julie says she took the case because it was the right thing to do. Well, Bracker & Marcus proved the naysayers wrong, and they did it with dignity! Give them a call; you will not regret it!

-Shay E.

I met Julie & Jason the day after being asked to tender my resignation at a job I loved. From that first meeting until the final settlement three years later, their professionalism, competency, & work ethic was exemplary. I know I could not have had better counsel. They truly represent the best in their profession.

Call our Whistleblower attorneys to discuss your case

At Bracker & Marcus, you are our priority. We went into this business to help people report fraud and return stolen money to taxpayers, and that is still our mission today. With a proven track record, an excellent reputation with the people who can make or break your case, and the ability to take on a case of any size, we are ready to hear your story and start your case.
We are dedicated to putting your needs first. Because of that, we don’t get paid unless we win. Call our qui tam whistleblower attorneys today to learn more.

Bracker & Marcus represent whistleblowers.

Whistleblowers are brave individuals who speak up when they witness wrongdoing. Whether they’re reporting employer contract violations, falsified reports, or any other form of fraud, whistleblowers perform a crucial service to the public and the federal government.
At Bracker & Marcus, we believe whistleblowers uphold integrity and help the government hold corporations that cheat and steal accountable. That’s why our qui tam lawyers work hard to represent whistleblowers, help them report fraud, return funds to taxpayers, and stop their employers’ unlawful conduct.
False Claims Act
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Financial Fraud
Our whistleblower attorneys have successfully tackled fraud in medical, education, defense, and many other industries. If you know of fraud against the government at the federal, state, or local level, you have the opportunity to correct wrongdoing and report unlawful actions. Contact our firm for a free evaluation.

Whistleblower cases we handle

The whistleblower attorneys at Bracker & Marcus litigate cases violating the False Claim Act in the healthcare, government contracting, and financial industries, to name a few. The following are common FCA violations in each of these industries.

Healthcare Fraud

● Violating the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) – This statute ensures that patients receive care or products based on medical judgment, not because someone is getting a kickback. For example, a doctor would be violating the AKS if they prescribe a new medication in exchange for money or an expensive vacation.

● Upcoding – This is one of the most common violations of the False Claim Act in the healthcare industry. Upcoding occurs when a medical provider uses incorrect billing codes that result in higher reimbursement. For example, a surgeon who bills for a simple procedure as if it were a complex procedure would be committing upcoding.

● Unbundling – Government health care programs typically pay one amount for related services. Dishonest health care providers sometimes bill these items separately in order to charge more money.

Government Contractor Fraud

● Product Substitution – a contractor who promises one type of good to the government but delivers another, inferior product, and then bills for the expensive version, commits fraud against the government.

● Falsifying Progress Reports – This type of government fraud occurs when a contractor falsifies reports on government contracts to quickly get progress-based payments instead of what has been earned.

● Lying to Participate in Special “Set Aside” Programs – the government chooses to set aside a percentage of work for companies owned by minorities, by women, or who are in other less-represented groups to encourage those businesses. A contractor commits fraud if they claim to belong to one of these groups when they do not.

Financial Fraud

● Trade practice violations – This type of fraud can be litigated under the FCA and includes several different scams, including unauthorized swap transactions (swap scams).

● Tax fraud – Tax fraud is criminalized as “false or fraudulent returns” under Title 26, United States Code Section 7206(1). This is a serious crime that carries stiff penalties, including a minimum three-year prison sentence.

● Financial statement fraud – An individual or company commits financial statement fraud (improper revenue recognition) when they falsify balance sheets, income, and cash flow statements to create the appearance of a stronger company than it actually is. A common reason for this is personal gain of funds.

Qui Tam FAQs

Qui tam is short for a Latin phrase, “Qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur,” which translates as, “He who sues on behalf of the King, as well as for himself.” 

Qui tam started in England, where in certain instances, the people were empowered to sue on behalf of the crown and receive a bounty for the recovery. You can essentially do the same today with help from an experienced attorney. 

All qui tam statutes include two elements: (1) private prosecutors share in the penalty; and (2) private persons can initiate a suit to recover the penalty. In sum, it is a statute or regulation that permits a whistleblower to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the government for a share of the recovery.

Qui Tam Statutes: Early History

“Statutes providing for actions by a common informer, who himself had no interest whatever in the controversy other than that given by statute, have been in existence for hundreds of years in England, and in this country ever since the foundation of our government.” Marvin v. Trout, 199 U.S. 212, 225, 26 S.Ct. 31, 34, 50 L.Ed. 157 (1905).

Although qui tam statutes are somewhat rare today, the First Congress authorized qui tam suits in at least 10 of the first 14 statutes imposing penalties. Over the next 100 years, subsequent Congresses continued to support this approach to law enforcement, passing new qui tam legislation periodically. 

Much like sheriffs deputizing private citizens in the old west, these qui tam statutes remained an important element of peacekeeping until the twentieth century, when public agencies became more effective and the need for the qui tam statutes faded.

How do you pronounce “qui tam”?

Of course, “qui tam” may be a short form, but for only six letters it gets pronounced in all sorts of ways. The “correct” pronunciation is the Latin one – kwee tam – rather than the “kee-tam” we tend to use if we are accustomed to Spanish or French. As for that “a”, it’s the same sound as in “father.”

Although not technically a qui tam, certain financial fraud whistleblower programs act just like a qui tam. However, the report is filed with a federal agency, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) whistleblower programs.

What is the history of the False Claims Act?

Most of our qui tam work is as False Claims Act lawyers. The False Claims Act permits whistleblowers, known as relators, to bring lawsuits alleging fraud that has been committed against the government. It is the most well-known qui tam statute in American jurisprudence and is generally considered to be the most effective law in combating fraud against the federal government, as well as preventing waste and abuse in government spending. 

President Abraham Lincoln signed the False Claims Act (FCA) into law during the height of the Civil War. At that time, distances between Washington, D.C. and the battlefields made communication difficult. The federal government would order supplies for the troops, but soldiers in the field would sometimes receive substandard goods. 

The distance made catching these war profiteers impossible, and so President Lincoln passed the FCA in an effort to prevent fraud against the government and in government contracting. It enabled people who knew about fraudulent goods being supplied to turn in the fraudsters and receive a share of the recovery as a reward for their time and trouble.

As one court noted when discussing the origins of the False Claims Act:

“The Civil False Claims Act was born in 1863 to a nation engulfed in a civil war. The War Department found itself at the hands of unscrupulous and corrupt government contractors. The abuses and damage done to the federal treasury and war effort was, for defense contractors, an opportunity for windfall profit. The contractors were fast becoming ‘proverbially and notoriously rich.’ For sugar it [the government] often got sand; for coffee, rye; for leather, something no better than brown paper; for sound horses and mules, spavined beasts and dying donkeys; and for serviceable muskets and pistols, the experimental failures of sanguine inventors, or the refuse of shops and foreign armories.”

U.S. ex rel. Newsham v. Lockheed Missiles & Space Co., 722 F. Supp. 607, 608 (N.D. Cal. 1989) (citing a Harper’s Monthly Magazine article from 1864).

At the urging of President Abraham Lincoln, Congress passed the False Claims Act to deter this defense contractor fraud. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as Lincoln’s Law.

Congress believed that the offer of a qui tam award would cause those involved in the fraud to turn on their co-conspirators, as it would “hold out to a confederate a strong temptation to betray his co-conspirator, and bring him to justice.” The statute was thus based “upon the old-fashioned idea of holding out a temptation, and ‘setting a rogue to catch a rogue.” Cong. Globe, 37th Cong., 3d Sess. 955–56 (1863) (remarks of Sen. Howard). 

The original penalties of the False Claims Act included paying double the amount of the government’s damages plus $2,000 for each false claim.

Thus, initially, the False Claims Act was primarily used against defense contractors. The statute became a hot topic again during World War II when war profiteers again began defrauding the military. However, Congress tinkered with the statute to the point of making it overly difficult to bring a successful claim. 

And so after an amendment in 1943 that weakened the False Claims Act, it sat unused and forgotten for more than forty years.

The Cold War Revives the False Claims Act

In the 1980s, the United States was embroiled in a cold war with Russia. Defense spending was out of control, and fraud made up a considerable percentage of those costs. So Congress again amended the False Claims Act, including increasing access and the recoveries, to a version substantially similar to that which exists today. 

Still, the majority of False Claims Act cases were brought by the government without a whistleblower. In 1987, the government brought 341 False Claims Act cases, and only 30 qui tam cases were filed by relators.

In the early 1990s, False Claims Act lawyers realized that this law could apply to healthcare fraud, and began bringing cases against providers defrauding Medicare, and later Medicaid. With this realization, the floodgates opened, resulting in thousands of new qui tam cases. For example, by 1997, qui tam relators filed 547 cases.

Since 1986, the Justice Department has recovered upwards of $60 billion from cases filed under the False Claims Act. In 2009, Congress further broadened the False Claims Act by passing the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act (FERA) amendments. This led to a second boom in qui tam filings, resulting in 600-800 new qui tam cases every year. 

Since then, the average annual recovery has exceeded $3.5 billion.

Get Expert Help with Your Qui Tam Filing

In 2015, the premier qui tam law firm of Bracker & Marcus LLC opened its doors, ensuring that whistleblowers throughout the country have access to the best possible representation for False Claims Act cases. 

Our Atlanta whistleblower attorneys are ready to speak with you during a confidential and complimentary consultation, so schedule yours today by calling 770-988-5035.

It’s only natural for potential whistleblowers to wonder who is responsible for a qui tam attorney’s fees. In summary:

  • Most False Claims Act lawyers represent whistleblowers on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if they win.
  • The whistleblower gets a percentage of the government’s recovery, and lawyers get a percentage of that percentage.
  • The False Claims Act also permits your lawyers to recover hourly fees and costs from the defendants.
  • Watch out for lawyers who ask you to cover some or all of their hourly fees from your recovery!

If you are considering filing a lawsuit under the False Claims Act, two of your primary concerns are probably who has to pay your lawyer if you win, and who has to pay your lawyer if you lose?

Let our Atlanta whistleblower attorneys explore these questions in more depth.

Most False Claims Act Law Firms Operate On A Contingency Fee Basis.

False Claims Act cases are high risk, high reward. Many whistleblowers can’t afford to pay hourly fees to their attorneys to litigate against defendants such as medical practices, hospitals, defense contractors, and pharmaceutical companies.

For this reason, most False Claims Act law firms, including ours, operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they win the case.

As we explain in more detail here, when a False Claims Act case results in a settlement or judgment, the government keeps most of the recovery. However, it pays the whistleblower a “relator’s share,” meaning a percentage of the recovery, as a reward for bringing the case. If the government intervenes in the case, the whistleblower gets between 15% and 25% of the recovery. If the government declines to intervene, so that the whistleblower has to litigate the case without government support, the whistleblower gets between 25% and 30% of the recovery.

For example, if the government were to intervene and settle a qui tam case for $1 million, and it agreed to pay out a 20% relator’s share, the whistleblower would receive $200,000 of the $1 million settlement. As part of the engagement process, the lawyers and client will have agreed upon a percentage of the relator’s share that will be paid to the lawyer as its contingency fee.

The False Claims Act Also Permits A Lawyer To Seek Statutory Fees From The Defendant.

In addition to the contingency fee paid from the client’s recovery, the lawyers representing the whistleblower may also request that the losing defendants pay their hourly fees and costs.

Normally, under the “American Rule,” parties pay their own legal fees no matter who wins the case. However, the winning party may ask the losing party to pay its “costs,” meaning actual out-of-pocket expenses such as filing fees and costs of litigations such as photocopying and depositions.

The False Claims Act is one of several “fee-shifting statutes,” which means that it includes a provision that says a successful whistleblower is entitled to be paid reasonable fees, costs, and expenses from the losing defendant. Both the qui tam (fraud) provision and the anti-retaliation provision of the FCA include this fee-shift.

In some instances, attorneys charge their client on an hourly basis and, if the case is successful, the client recovers the money from the defendants at the end. However, FCA litigation is both risky and expensive (more on this below), and most whistleblowers cannot afford to “front” the cost of the litigation.

Accordingly, many whistleblower lawyers—including Bracker & Marcus LLC—choose to advance their time and recover the money directly from the defendants at the conclusion of a successful case. The Supreme Court blessed this type of agreement in Venegas v. Mitchell, 495 U.S. 82, 110 S. Ct. 1679, 109 L. Ed. 2d 74 (1990).

More Lawyers Won’t Necessarily Mean You Pay More Money.

When we sue billion-dollar companies such as defense contractors, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and hospital systems, they hire teams of lawyers from the biggest law firms in America and spend vast amounts of money for defense. Our firm is very good at what we do, which is preparing, filing, and litigating your claims of fraud against the government. But we know our limitations, and it would be foolish of us to think our little firm can keep up with the Joneses. So, in these circumstances, we often bring in co-counsel to assist with the case.

Generally, this should not cost you anything. If your lawyers need additional help, they should be subject to the same terms as your original team: they will receive part of our contingency fee, and they will be able to ask the defendant for their statutory hourly fees.

Therefore, even if an army of lawyers is necessary to litigate a case, the whistleblower’s share is typically unaffected.

Some Whistleblower Firms May Agree To A Hybrid Arrangement, But We Don’t Recommend Them.

Although most agreements fall into the template described above, sometimes it is advantageous for the whistleblower to pay the hourly fees out of pocket in exchange for a reduced contingency fee.

This can be beneficial to the lawyer, whose hourly fee is now guaranteed by the client, regardless of the outcome of the case. And this can be beneficial to the client, who could recover more of the resulting award. Moreover, if they are successful, they, rather than the lawyers, would recover the fees and costs from the defendant.

This type of arrangement is atypical for a reason. Taking a False Claims Act case through trial can easily run up millions of dollars in attorney’s fees and costs. Proving fraud is notoriously difficult. Moreover, no matter how much you believe in your case, many uncontrollable issues can sink your reward.

For one, under the first-to-file rule, only one whistleblower may bring a lawsuit, and subsequent filers are not entitled to a reward. Because these cases are filed under seal, you cannot find out if such cases exist, and so you could be unintentionally bankrolling an investigation and litigation that benefits someone who filed their case before you.

Similarly, your case could be dismissed under the public disclosure bar. You don’t even have to be aware of the public disclosure for it to keep your claim from proceeding. An SEC filing, a blog, or a confidential federal report could sink your case.

Another reason is that the government has the right to dismiss or settle your case. It might decide that the case you think is worth a hundred million dollars is really worth one million dollars, or worth nothing at all, and there is essentially nothing you can do about it because the case belongs to the government.

With so much on the line, lawyers generally don’t want their clients’ ability to pay to be a barrier to litigating these cases. So, it is pretty rare that most firms would recommend such an agreement or accept such an agreement.

Be Wary Of Whistleblower Law Firms That Want You To Cover Their Attorney’s Fees From Your Contingency Fee.

It is important to understand that the contingency fee and the statutory fees are two separate, unrelated items. The contingency fee is what the whistleblower, our client, pays us for our services. It is a percentage of the award from the government and/or any recovery we obtain for anti-retaliation claims.

The statutory hourly fees are paid by the defendant. They are based on the number of hours we have expended working on the case. Whether the lawyers have one thousand dollars in fees or one million dollars in fees, the client’s recovery stays the same.

When there is an intervention, the lines are pretty clearly drawn: the government will ultimately control how much the case will settle for, which in turn triggers the lawyer’s ability to collect fees from the defendant. The lawyer could never divert part of the government’s settlement amount to pay fees, of course.

When the case is declined, however, situations often present themselves where the lines start to get a little fuzzy. The defendant only really cares how much in total it will have to pay—it doesn’t care how much of a settlement payment goes to the qui tam claim, how much goes to the retaliation claim, and how much goes to the lawyer’s fees.

Accordingly, it is important to have a frank conversation with your lawyer before the parties start discussing a settlement, to determine how much of a recovery should pay for the lawyer’s fees versus how much should go towards settling the various claims.

Some whistleblower law firms may prioritize their hourly fees in their representation agreement, which puts the whistleblower in a bind. It is not hard to imagine a scenario where a lawyer has, for example, a million dollars in fees and the defendant offers a million dollars to settle the case. The engagement agreement might give priority to the lawyer’s fees in such a situation, or state that the lawyer’s fees are “covered” by the relator’s recovery (i.e., any unpaid attorneys’ fees can be paid off the top).

Would-be whistleblowers should be careful about agreeing to such a provision. Under such an arrangement, if fees exceed recovery, the whistleblower could wind up receiving nothing. We understand the lawyer’s dilemma—they have spent their time and money on this case, and they want to be compensated for their efforts.

But such language can be toxic to the relationship between client and attorney. Whistleblowers should always have faith that their attorneys have their best interests in mind and at heart. It is not conducive to the lawyer-client relationship for a lawyer to announce, out of the blue, after years of representation, that their fees outstrip the potential recovery and so the whistleblower should be grateful for anything they can get.

Filing a False Claims Act case is a long and difficult process for both whistleblowers and their counsel. It is a partnership that lasts for many years. We want to see our clients rewarded for their bravery. Our clients want to see us get paid for our work. Agreements that tilt the balance toward a lawyer or client can quickly and irreversibly damage that relationship.

What About Other Whistleblower Statutes?

While other whistleblower statutes are also fee-shifting, the IRS and SEC whistleblower statutes are not. They also don’t require the same expertise as the False Claims Act because complaints filed under those statutes, unlike the FCA, cannot be litigated in court if the government declines to intervene. Only the government can litigate and settle these types of complaints.

Legal representation is still important, however, as whistleblowers need someone to package their reports with the correct legal standards and analysis, and perhaps most importantly, to fight on their behalf to recover a share if the case does settle.

However, since these types of whistleblower complaints can never be litigated and end up in trial, lawyers should receive either a contingency fee or an hourly fee (or, like explained above, a hybrid that reduces the former in favor of the latter).

Get An Attorney You Can Trust – With A Crystal-Clear Payment Arrangement. 

If you’re a whistleblower with a promising case, there shouldn’t be any question as to how your attorneys will be paid – if they get paid at all.

If you have questions about filing or are ready to secure trustworthy representation, call the False Claims Act attorneys at Bracker & Marcus LLC. We can discuss your case and our contingency fee agreement during your free evaluation.

we are Invested in our clients;

our firm works quickly and efficiently on your behalf

If you have witnessed or know of fraud within your company or organization, you need experienced whistleblower lawyers who will fight for you and help you stand up against cheating, stealing, and fraud. Contact our lawyers today to review your situation – we evaluate all potential qui tam cases to determine what your best action is.

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