When a whistleblower that filed cases under the False Claims Act is successful, he or she can anticipate a large check and the lawyers can get substantial legal fees too. Sometimes, however, the court orders the whistleblower to pay legal fees. Those cases are rare but a federal judge in Virginia this week sanctioned a whistleblower $109,000 in legal fees. By “sanctioned” we mean the whistleblower has to pay those fees.
As noted above, these cases are rare. Usually, they involve bad conduct too.
Judge Anthony Trenga ordered whistleblower Cornelius Hosch to pay his former employer BAE Systems PLC $109,000. The attorney’s fee award follows a ruling last year that Hosch had committed discovery violations.
In any federal lawsuit, all parties are required to provide discovery. Sometimes a party will object to a discovery request because the information sought isn’t relevant, is confidential or simply because the information sought is too difficult to produce.
When a discovery issue occurs, the court typically listens to both sides and decides what information must be produced. If a party disobeys the court’s discovery order, sanctions can follow. The ultimate sanction for a whistleblower is having his or her case tossed. That is what happened to Hosch’s case against BAE.
Worse, Hosch was ordered to pay $109,000 in BAE’s legal fees.
Hosch originally filed a whistleblower suit in 2013 after claiming is employer was falsely billing for work done on government contracts. Hosch said BAE was using lower skilled workers but billing them as workers with higher skills. Think of a law firm billing a client for legal work performed by a paralegal but claiming the work was done by a senior partner.
We will never know if the allegations brought by Hosch are true. His case was dismissed after repeated discovery violations. We also do not know if Hosch or his lawyers or both were responsible for the discovery problems.
Cases like this are tragic. Not only did Hosch lose, but taxpayers potentially lost too. When companies rip off the government, taxpayers are left footing the bill. In this case, we probably will never learn the truth.
Whistleblowers should always seek the best possible lawyer they can find. Few lawyers truly concentrate in these cases. Last year only 700 cases were filed nationwide (but those cases paid whistleblowers $635 million!)
We have helped put over $100 million in the pockets of our clients. If you have inside knowledge about fraud against the government or a government project, give us a call. For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (414) 703-6731. All inquiries are kept completely confidential.
MahanyLaw – America’s Whistleblower Lawyers