A whistleblower lawyer is an expert on the laws that protect whistleblowers. They can help you determine if your allegations meet the legal threshold and whether you should file a whistleblower lawsuit or take other actions.
Whistleblowers are typically individuals, but they can also be groups of employees or a coalition of stakeholders. They may have personal knowledge and documents that show an employer’s illegal activities.
Identifying the Wrongdoer
Whistleblower laws encourage those with knowledge of fraud against the government to come forward. These laws include the False Claims Act, which allows citizens to sue individuals, companies, and governmental entities that defraud the government.
In order to file a qui tam lawsuit, a whistleblower must have evidence of wrongdoing that relates to false claims or fraud against the government. If the government finds merit in the claim, it typically takes over the case and awards the citizen a percentage of any money recovered.
A whistleblower lawyer will review the case and gather any additional information or evidence that supports the claim. If the claim is valid, the whistleblower lawyer files the lawsuit under seal while the government conducts an investigation to determine whether it wants to take over the case.
Filing the Complaint
Whistleblowers who report wrongdoing, especially those who have evidence of serious safety or health issues, may be able to file qui tam lawsuits under state and federal whistleblower laws. This can allow whistleblowers more time to develop their cases and take them to court, as well as give them a higher level of protection and representation than under other laws.
Once you have the information necessary to identify wrongdoing, you can begin by filing a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). The OSC will usually screen your complaint within a few days and assign an investigator who will have about 240 days to conduct a preliminary investigation.
Filing a Counterclaim
If a defendant feels that they are entitled to relief, they can file their own counterclaim. This may be a rebuttal to the plaintiff’s claim or it could be a new cause of action.
In most cases, a counterclaim must be served within the time to answer the Complaint. This is typically 21 days under Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure for normal civil claims.
A counterclaim must contain facts that support each element of the legal claims being brought against the Plaintiff. A defendant should take the time to do their research and investigation to ensure they include all relevant facts in their counterclaim.
Filing a Motion for Summary Judgment
Summary judgment is a legal tool that can be used to get the case finished before it even gets to a trial. Often, parties who believe they have the undisputed facts that warrant a ruling in their favor will file a motion for summary judgment.
A motion for summary judgment should be filed with the court at least twenty-eight days prior to a scheduled hearing on the matter. This is important to allow the court enough time to review all of the relevant facts and law in the case.
Filing a Motion for Preliminary Injunction
A plaintiff may move for a preliminary injunction, which is a temporary restraining order issued by a court to prevent the defendant from proceeding with an activity that threatens or is already causing harm to the plaintiff. CPLR 6301 defines preliminary injunctions as “a temporary restraining order, or other form of injunctive relief, which is granted in cases where it appears that the defendant is engaging in, permitting, or threatening an act in violation of the plaintiff’s rights with regard to the subject matter of the action, and which tends to render the judgment ineffectual pending a final hearing of the issue on the merits.”
The court will consider several factors in deciding whether to grant a motion for a preliminary injunction, including: (1) probability of success on the merits; (2) irreparable harm absent the injunction; and (3) the balance of the equities favoring the relief sought. The plaintiff should be prepared to demonstrate the likelihood of success and irreparable injury in their case and should also have evidence supporting their claim.
Filing a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order
In business matters, a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction may represent an effective way to expedite resolution of a lawsuit without having to wait for the entire matter to go to trial. A skilled attorney can seek and obtain this type of judicial remedy within days of filing the complaint that begins the litigation, allowing for a favorable resolution to be obtained much more quickly than in traditional business lawsuits.
A TRO may be requested for a variety of reasons, including workplace violence, criminal acts, sexual abuse or other family issues. The judge will then decide whether to issue a TRO, which will last until a hearing on a more permanent order can be held.