Bracker & Marcus LLC can represent qui tam relators in any federal court in the country.
Two questions we are frequently asked by prospective whistleblowers are: (1) where can I file my False Claims Act case, and (2) will you be able to represent me if we don’t file in Georgia?
The short answers are (1) you can file anywhere a single defendant transacts business and (2) absolutely! Bracker & Marcus LLC is a nationwide practice with cases spanning the country.
Where the False Claims Act Allows Relators to File a Qui Tam
The False Claims Act gives potential relators flexibility to file in just about any district with ties to the defendants or the fraud. Under 31 U.S.C. § 3730:
Any [False Claims Act action] may be brought in any judicial district in which the defendant or, in the case of multiple defendants, any one defendant can be found, resides, transacts business, or in which any act proscribed by [the False Claims Act] occurred.
So what does that mean? If your defendant is a hospital in Atlanta, you can file your case in the Northern District of Georgia because the defendant transacts business there. If your case also has a doctor defendant who commutes from Macon, you could instead file your case in the Middle District of Georgia because one of your defendants resides there.
Taking the analysis one step further, if your defendant is a pharmaceutical manufacturer, it probably sells products in pharmacies or to healthcare providers throughout the country. Under the False Claims Act, even if the Relator is a pharmacist in Orlando, they can file their case in any district in the country, so long as they are transacting business in that district.
When Fraud Is a Federal Matter
Normally, a defendant must have some ties to a district for the court to have jurisdiction. However, another unusual twist to the False Claims Act is that you can file wherever a single defendant is located. This applies even in a multiple-defendant case where no other defendant has any business in that district.
For example, say you are alleging that a pharmaceutical manufacturer defendant paid kickbacks to a defendant physician in Miami who has never lived or practiced outside the state. In this instance, you can file against the Miami doctor in California.
That’s because the False Claims Act recognizes that the fraud is committed against the federal government. All one needs to meet this requirement is minimum contact with the United States as a whole and at least one defendant with specific ties to the district.
Getting more creative, the False Claims Act also states that jurisdiction can be found in any district in which any proscribed act occurred. The sine qua non of a False Claims Act violation (meaning the essential element) is the submission of a false claim.
So, a savvy relator’s counsel may file their qui tam case in the district where the claim is submitted to rather than from. For example, cases are filed in the District Court for Washington, D.C. because the affected agency is located there. Taking it one step further, defense contractor cases are often brought in the Southern District of Ohio, This is because Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the agency that processes the payments on behalf of the Department of Defense, is located in Columbus.
Bracker & Marcus LLC Represents Relators Nationwide
Although the named partners are based in Atlanta, Georgia, Bracker & Marcus LLC has cases pending in 16 district courts in 12 states located in every region of the country. Because our cases are filed in federal court, our attorneys can be admitted on a temporary basis in any court in the country. This is called pro hac vice.
Moreover, attorneys Anna Dover and Nathan Peak work out of New York City and the Washington, D.C. areas, respectively.
When we file cases outside of our home states, we generally engage “local counsel,” a firm that has familiarity with the local rules and judges. Usually, this will be another firm with qui tam experience, giving you two law firms for the price of one! At our firm, co-counsel is usually paid out of our contingency fee at no extra cost to the client.
In the coming weeks, we will be blogging about our respective homes: the Washington, DC metro area, New York City, and Georgia. We will also delve into why you might want to file in a venue besides your local district.