Presented by Hodgson Russ, the Whistleblower Blog is written by a team of lawyers experienced in successfully guiding both whistleblowers and companies accused by whistleblowers of wrongdoing through the False Claims Act process.

On Behalf of the King

But the first part of the quote is also important: that the whistleblower is suing on behalf of the “king” - or, in the United States, the government - not just in his or her own interests. Unlike a traditional civil lawsuit, in which someone sues to redress a harm that the defendant has done to them, a whistleblower in a qui tam lawsuit is suing to redress a harm that the defendant has done injury to the government. In other words, the whistleblower is representing his interests and, vitally, the interests of another.

This matters because under federal law, plaintiffs in federal court may not appear pro se where interests other than their own are at stake. See 28 U.S.C. § 1654. The purpose of this rule is to protect the interests of those others from being squandered by somebody who is not equipped to represent them. This doctrine is routinely applied in securities litigation and would-be class action lawsuits. However, Courts have increasingly found it applicable in qui tam litigation. The Second Circuit, Third Circuit, Fourth Circuit, Sixth Circuit, Seventh Circuit, Ninth Circuit, and Tenth Circuit have all upheld the dismissal of qui tam claims brought by pro se litigants, reasoning that, “though the relator party has an interest . . . that right to recovery is inextricably bound up with the Government’s interest.”  Wojcicki v. SCANA/SCE&G, 947 F.3 240, 244 (4th Cir. 2020).

These holdings make it vital for whistleblowers to retain counsel when filing a case. Hodgson Russ LLP has vast experience in representing whistleblowers in qui tam litigation arising under the False Claims Act.

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