If the government intervenes in your case
If you are one of the lucky ones, your allegations have been substantiated by the Justice Department and they have made the decision to intervene in your case. What that means is the Justice Department is going to lift the seal and serve the complaint on the defendant. That also means you will be identified as the relator in the case. It also means there will be negotiations between the government and the defendant to settle the case.
Just because the government decides to intervene in your case does not mean that you and your attorney can sit back and wait for a successful conclusion. Your attorney should keep in close contact with the progress in the case, much for the same reasons you did while the case was under seal. The government has shown a proclivity to settle for five cents on the dollar in order to get a win and may also feel political pressure from the company’s lobbyists to settle low. The company, or provider, may plead poverty and try to take the position they cannot pay the settlement amount being negotiated.
As a relator, you have a right to file a protest with the court if you think the proposed settlement is too low, but you need to be able to show factual reasons why the government should get more money. This means that you need to know what the government has or has not been doing in your case.
If negotiations break down and no settlement is reached, the government will take the case to trial (rare in qui tam cases). If that happens, you will be expected to testify as a witness to the fraud and your attorney needs to know the depth of the government case to help prepare you for the defense attorney’s cross-examination.
There are other issues that can arise after the government intervenes and tries to settle. A defendant can file for bankruptcy and put any settlement in limbo and under the authority of a bankruptcy court.
In the vast majority of cases in which the Justice Department decides to intervene, there will be a settlement that is paid directly to the government through the Department of Justice. The DoJ then decides what the relator’s share will be – anywhere between 15 and 25 percent. The actual percentage will depend on a criterion that generally revolve around how much your involvement, and value, was in the success of the case. The average relator’s share percentage is around 18 percent.
Once the relator’s share is determined, that amount is forwarded to your attorney who provides your share to you based on your retainer agreement.
Contact us if you want to discuss your specific issues: