When filing any type of lawsuit, you will need solid evidence to back up your claim. In a qui tam, or whistleblower, lawsuit, that evidence must be solid and clearly establish that your employer, or another individual or entity, defrauded the government. Investigations into a qui tam lawsuit are extensive and take a great deal of time and resources. The courts will likely not move ahead with one unless there is substantial evidence of wrongdoing.
When gathering this evidence, whistleblowers will run into three types — evidence you have, evidence you do not have but can obtain, and evidence that you cannot obtain. Each of these categories of evidence presents its own issues.
Evidence You Have
When someone suspects an employer of violating the federal False Claims Act or California’s False Claims Act, they typically begin to collect evidence. This is often in the form of emails, text messages, documents, or notes from meetings. This can all be used as solid evidence in a qui tam lawsuit and will typically determine whether or not there is enough evidence to file. However, employees must not give in to the temptation of recording conversations. Under California’s wiretapping laws, it is a crime to record a private conversation without the consent of all parties.
Evidence You do Not Have, but can Obtain
In many qui tam lawsuits, there is evidence the whistleblower does not have, but can obtain. This may include documents that are filed away somewhere, or computer files on a company computer. This type of evidence sometimes poses a problem. You know that the evidence is sitting there, yet you also understand that trying to get it could put you in danger. Sometimes the fear of that danger is enough to prevent someone from pursuing a lawsuit.
In these situations, it is important to speak to an attorney. An attorney can advise on which evidence you can and cannot legally collect. They will also help you obtain any lawful evidence as safely as possible.
Evidence You Cannot Obtain
You may understand that there is evidence is out there that will help your qui tam lawsuit, but you also know there is no way to get it. Perhaps it is an email your boss sent to another person, or maybe you have already left the company. While this is frustrating, an attorney has the ability to subpoena certain evidence that could support your claim. They can also make arguments to challenge confidentiality agreements so you can bring forward as much evidence as possible.
An Experienced California Qui Tam Attorney can Help Collect the Evidence You Need
If you have learned that your employer is in violation of state or federal law and is defrauding the government, you cannot blow the whistle on your own. These lawsuits are some of the most complex and bring with them immense challenges, such as collecting evidence. A San Francisco qui tam attorney can help you overcome those obstacles.
At Willoughby Brod, LLP, we’re passionate about helping whistleblowers make things right. If you know of wrongdoing, it is time to come forward, and we will help you every step of the way. Call us today at (800) 427-7020 for your free case evaluation so we can get started on your case.
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(image courtesy of Samson Duborg Rankin)