Under the False Claims Act (FCA), any person may bring forward information about fraud being perpetrated against the U.S. government and potentially collect between 15% and 25% of the proceeds recovered in an FCA action, which often includes both recovery of fraudulently obtained funds as well as steep criminal fines. Many billions of dollars have been recovered in FCA claims in recent years, with individual whistleblower plaintiffs often collecting millions of dollars apiece for their efforts in doing the right thing to hold accountable those criminal companies who rip off American taxpayers. Obviously, the first step in bringing a FCA claim is working with a whistleblower attorney to determine whether you have sufficient grounds to bring a suit, but one key issue that will come later is deciding in what venue to file suit. Below are several reasons why Houston may be a proper venue.
The Proper Venue for a FCA Claim Act
Venue refers to the specific court that a suit should be brought in. The FCA statute states that an FCA Claim, “…may be brought in any judicial district in which the defendant or, in the case of multiple defendants, any one defendant can be found, resides, transacts business, or in which any act proscribed by [the FCA] occurred.”
This is a very broad rule, and because most large healthcare organizations transact business in Houston – the nation’s fourth largest city – there is a good possibility that Houston is indeed a proper venue for an FCA claim.
The Advantages of Houston as an FCA Venue
There are many great venues across the country to bring an FCA claim, but Houston offers some particular advantages.
First off, the state of Texas has its own version of whistleblower laws which allow for whistleblowers to recover portions of judgments and settlements where the state of Texas itself has been defrauded. The Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act in particular allows for claimants to recover 15% to 25% of funds recovered where the state has been defrauded through its Medicaid program. Given the fact that Texas is one of the largest states in the country, these sums could be substantial and in addition to federal recoveries.
Second, because FCA claims are frequently brought in the Houston Division of the federal district court for the Southern District of Texas, judges may be more familiar with the underlying law and processes, providing for a more a clear path to resolution for plaintiffs.
Finally, the juries that ultimately decide FCA claims are, of course, made up of local residents. Texas has a long tradition of avoiding waste in government, and so a plaintiff who does the work of bringing taxpayer-targeted fraud to light may find a more receptive audience in Houston.
Of course, there are innumerable factors that go into each case, and potential whistleblowers are strongly advised to speak with an FCA attorney at the earliest possible point to develop their litigation strategy.
Pursuing Your Own False Claims Act Whistleblower Award
At Kreindler & Associates, we provide comprehensive guidance for potential whistleblowers throughout the entire process of bringing their claims forward, from the initial investigation on through to collecting their whistleblower reward. Our experienced FCA attorneys will work with you every step of the way to determine your appropriate course of action, protect you from retaliation, and collect your much-deserved reward on your behalf. If you suspect that someone is committing Medicare or Medicaid fraud or other fraud against the Texas state or U.S. federal government, contact us today for an evaluation of your allegations.