The Justice Department has Contacted Me - What Happens Next?

Whistleblower Defense Sidebar

If you have received a subpoena from the Department of Justice, an investigation is already underway regarding your company’s practices — and a qui tam complaint may well have already been filed under seal.  If a sealed qui tam case is pending, the Department of Justice, working with applicable government investigative entities (such as the Offices of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services or the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or the Defense Criminal Investigative Service) will investigate the claims levied against your company by the whistleblower.  In conducting its investigation, the Department of Justice will likely seek to review your company’s documents, interview your company’s current and former employees, and hold meetings attended by Department of Justice attorneys and other government investigative agents. 

After a period of investigation (which can last up to several years), the Department of Justice will decide whether to “intervene” in the case — that is, whether the United States will prosecute the lawsuit against you directly, or whether it will stand aside and simply permit the relator to pursue the case in the name of the government.  In either event, your company must be prepared to defend the allegations in order to avoid the treble damages, penalties and other consequences posed by the False Claims Act.