Who: We are Tycko & Zavareei LLP, a law firm founded in Washington, D.C. by attorneys Jonathan Tycko and Hassan Zavareei . In recent years, a significant portion of our practice has been devoted to representing whistleblowers in qui tam litigation under the False Claims Act, and in connection with tax whistleblower claims before the IRS Whistleblower Office. With the recent passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law (discussed in detail in item 4 of this newsletter), which has created a qui tam-like procedure for persons wishing to blow the whistle on securities and commodities law violations, we expect our representation of whistleblowers to expand into that area as well. In addition to representing whistleblowers, our firm also represents individuals and companies in the areas of employment, wage & hour, unfair competition, and real estate. We also handle class action litigation, and have been appointed by courts as class counsel in a number of large class actions.
What: The Tycko & Zavareei LLP Whistleblower Law Newsletter will be devoted to legal developments in the whistleblower area. Currently, this area of law falls into three primary categories. First, under the False Claims Act, private citizens can bring qui tam actions (lawsuits brought in the name of the government) against companies who have engaged in fraud on the government. Historically, False Claims Act litigation focused on fraud by defense contractors and, more recently, on fraud by healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies on the Medicare and Medicaid systems. But the False Claims Act covers any company or person who does business with the government, and successful qui tam actions have been brought by whistleblowers in almost every industry sector that relies in whole or part on the federal fisc. A successful qui tam plaintiff can receive between 15% and 30% of the government’s recovery as his or her reward for disclosing the fraud. Second, under the 2006 Tax Relief and Healthcare Act, a similar bounty was offered to individuals who disclose tax fraud to the Internal Revenue Service, and the IRS Whistleblower Office was established. That office now has a set of procedures and standards that must be followed to perfect a claim for that bounty. And third, the recently-enacted financial reform law, commonly known as the Dodd-Frank Act, established a new set of procedures and standards intended to encourage those with knowledge of securities and commodities laws violations to disclose that information to the SEC or CSPC, and created financial incentives similar to those that apply in False Claims Act and tax whistleblower cases. The procedures and standards in these three categories of whistleblower laws are overlapping, and legal developments in one are certain to influence the others. And whistleblowers of all sorts share other common concerns, such as retaliation by employers, potential industry “black listing,” and other types of common fall-out from the act of blowing the whistle.
Why: Our firm has committed itself to being among the elite firms in the country for the representation of whistleblowers. We are in the midst of a “whistleblower revolution,” with greatly expanded incentives and protections for whistleblowers. We want to share this fascinating area of law with you, and to keep you abreast of developments.