Whistleblower Rewards: Choose a Whistleblower Lawyer with a Record of Success for Top Whistleblower Awards
How should a whistleblower pick a law firm? As we have written, choosing a lawyer is one of the most important decisions a whistleblower makes, and whistleblowers should look at factors like the law firm’s experience and track record. For whistleblowers, this post discusses one very important aspect of that experience and track record – the firm’s experience with the whistleblower reward determination process.
When deciding which firm to choose, there are a number of critical factors a whistleblower should evaluate. These include:
- the firm’s breadth and depth of experience handling whistleblower cases,
- established record of success,
- geographic reach, and
- capacity to engage in “scorched earth” litigation in complex cases, to go toe-to-toe with the huge law firms often hired by defendants.
Many prospective clients, however, overlook one particularly important consideration: the firm’s success in obtaining the maximum possible reward for its clients.
Constantine Cannon Prioritizes Rewards
Many firms tout the amount of money their whistleblower clients have helped to recover for the government. These are often eye-popping figures, but for most whistleblowers the more important dollar figure is the amount they receive as a reward. Yet it is rare to see any extended discussion of a whistleblower firm’s success in battling for the maximum possible reward.
Every whistleblower regime provides for a range of rewards, typically 10-15% at the low end and 25-30% at the high end. The “average” award tends to be at the low end of those ranges. For example, in 2019 the Justice Department reported average whistleblower awards that were just 12.6% of total False Claims Act case recoveries.
Constantine Cannon believes that its work does not end when a settlement is reached between the government and the defendant, or when an agency first issues a preliminary determination of a whistleblower reward. Indeed, that is often the beginning of a potentially difficult negotiation with the government over what percentage of the settlement the whistleblower ought to receive. We fight for the maximum amount that reflects our client’s contribution, and if the government seeks unfairly to minimize those efforts we push back, hard.
Constantine Cannon Clients Often Receive High Rewards
The proof is in the results. Our most recent summary of 2020 cases reflects an unprecedented level of success in obtaining extraordinary rewards for our whistleblower clients. In one 2020 case our client received $52 million (38% overall); in another $37 million (23% out of 25% maximum); in another $7.8 million (29% out of 30% maximum); and in another $7.7 million (28.5% out of 30% maximum).
How does a whistleblower attain these awards? The most important factor under the law is the whistleblower’s and his attorneys’ contribution to the success of the case. That is where Constantine Cannon makes a difference.
Constantine Cannon’s Reward Maximization Strategy
Effective attorneys ease the government’s job of investigating cases. It is a truthful cliché that government attorneys are often overworked and underpaid. They greatly value whistleblowers who provide a thorough, well-organized, well-written submission of evidence. That makes their work evaluating a case far less time consuming.
They also appreciate ongoing assistance throughout the case from the whistleblower and her attorneys. Whistleblowers are rewarded if their lawyers have the resources and experience to
- review massive volumes of documents that the government receives from large companies;
- provide expert analysis of liability and damages;
- prepare deposition outlines with reference to key documents; and
- stand side-by-side with the government team if the case goes into heavy litigation.
Constantine Cannon has a reputation among government lawyers of providing extensive assistance whenever necessary. Our 70+ lawyers are seasoned litigators, accustomed to taking on the largest defense firms in the country. We do not rely on the government to make our case for us, we proactively suggest how the case can be made and provide the necessary resources to follow through. That assistance helps enlarge the government’s recovery and justifies a larger reward for our clients.
Constantine Cannon Will Fight for a Fair Award
Finally, when a case has been settled and the reward determined, a law firm must be able to negotiate effectively with the government for the maximum share that is justified by the client’s contribution. And if the government unreasonably refuses to agree, the firm must be prepared to pursue all avenues to obtain a fair result.
Just this year Constantine Cannon faced that situation. Our client’s cooperation produced a landmark settlement in a bid-rigging case, but the government offered him only 12.5%, below the 15-25% range. Moreover, the government refused to pay even the amount it admitted that it owed during the months it would take to resolve the disagreement.
Constantine Cannon decided it had no choice but to fight for its client in court. There are very few reported cases where other firms have taken this extraordinary step.
First, we secured an order from the court for an immediate $1 million payment to our client to provide him with living expenses. After that, we litigated and won a record breaking $37 million reward (23%), apparently the highest federal whistleblower reward percentage of a $100 million+ settlement.
This effort helped not only our existing client, but also future ones. When government lawyers know that a firm is willing to fight for a fair reward, they are more likely to be reasonable in negotiating that reward.
The lesson is simple. When evaluating which firm to choose, whistleblowers should pay close attention not only to the amounts the firm has returned to the government, but to the amounts recovered for its clients. In the past year alone, Constantine Cannon’s clients have received over $100 million in rewards. That is a critical metric of the firm’s success.
- The Constantine Cannon Whistleblower Practice Group
- Our Whistleblower Team
- Our Whistleblower Successes
- Government Contract Fraud
- Healthcare Fraud