August 27, 2015 – This is an inquiry that comes up relatively often in qui tam cases. Often, when prospective clients tell us their stories, we see multiple actionable claims against the defendant. This may include employment claims such as discrimination, retaliation, wage and hour losses, alongside qui tam claims on behalf of the government. A basic difference between the two is that the employment claims belong to the individual relator while the qui tam claims belong to the federal and/or state government(s).
Simultaneous Parallel Litigation?
Simultaneous parallel litigation of both claims filed separately often causes problems due to the fact that employment actions tend to move more quickly through the court system than qui tam actions. Once discovery commences in the employment action and the relator is required to respond to inquiries from the defendant truthfully under oath, questions about other litigation and/or the qui tam case will be difficult to answer since typically the qui tam case will still be under seal. The relator may be able to get a court order to lift the seal for the narrowed purpose of answering discovery in the parallel employment case, but there is a chance that the Court may not grant the relator’s request.
Waiting to file the employment case after the qui tam case has resolved?
This option is generally disfavored. Qui tam cases take a long time to resolve and most states/employment statutes have a statute of limitations on the time period that an individual has to file a claim. By taking the risk of waiting for the qui tam case to resolve before pursuing the employment claims, the relator risks that he may be completely barred for failing to act quickly in bringing his claims forward.
Inclusion of Employment Claims in Qui Tam Case?
Likely, the most favorable option for the relator is to include his employment claims in the qui tam case. This avenue maintains and preserves both the individual’s employment claims and the government’s qui tam claims. Although the relator may grow frustrated by the fact that his employment claims also remain under seal while the government investigates its claims, it is of no consequence to the relator because the statute of limitation is tolled once the case is filed on his employment claims. It’s also more economic to have both claims filed together. This also lessens the difficulty that the relator may endure with regard to maintaining the seal when there is simultaneous litigation.
If you have knowledge of fraud being committed against the government and you are ready to blow the whistle, contact us by email, or call our attorneys at 800.226.9880 to learn how we can help you through the process.
Waters & Kraus is a national plaintiffs’ firm that seeks to right the wrongs done to honest, hardworking people, including taxpayers who foot the bill for fraud against the government. This article was contributed by Louisa Kirakosian, an attorney at Waters & Kraus, in the firm’s Los Angeles office. She represents whistleblowers who have uncovered fraud against the government in the pharmaceutical, Medicare/Medicaid, and government contracting industries.