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The False Claims Act Today is a CLE organized by the Federal Bar Association's Qui Tam Section, for which TELG's Scott Oswald serves as chair. The seminar travels around the U.S. and convenes local practitioners, prosecutors, and judges to offer insight and tips on how the FCA is administered in their specific jurisdiction.
Here panelist Mitch Kreindler of Kreindler & Associates offers a preview of the Houston edition of 'The FCA Today,' which will take place on Feb. 21, 2019.
This video interview by TELG managing principal R. Scott Oswald was published by The Employment Law Group, P.C. on February 13, 2019.
A Preview of ‘The False Claims Act Today’ in Houston
» Click here for registration and more details on ‘The FCA Today’ in Houston on Feb. 21, 2019
(Transcribed and edited lightly by The Employment Law Group)
R. Scott Oswald: [Addressing camera] Welcome, everyone, to our ‘False Claims Act Today’ Houston edition. We’ll be in the Southern District of Texas, in Houston, on February 21, 2019. Today we have with us Mitch Kreindler of Kreindler & Associates. Mitch will be in our relators’ counsel seat for ‘False Claims Act Today.’
Mitch, give us a sneak preview. What can you expect from you on the panel?
Mitchell R. Kreindler: Well, I think this is going to be a great panel. Obviously I’ll give the point of view from relators’ counsel standpoint — but it’s infrequent that you get together everybody who’s involved in these kinds of actions. You’ll have defense counsel, relators’ counsel. We’ll have someone from the government. And maybe most interestingly, we’ll have a judge from the Southern District in Houston.
Oswald: Wonderful. So give us a little sense of being relators’ counsel: What kind of cases? We know about healthcare, for instance, but what other kinds of cases — maybe that one doesn’t expect under the False Claims Act — do you see across your desk? Visas, customs types cases? See any of those at all?
Kreindler: We actually have under seal right now a case that involves visa fraud. Some of those different avenues for fraud make [for] a more difficult challenge in terms of finding damages under the False Claims Act. But obviously the federal government is the largest purchaser of everything in the United States, so there’s a lot of room for any kind of procurement fraud where the government is involved in purchasing anything from paper clips to rocket launchers.
Oswald: Whistleblowers come into your office and they want to know a little bit about what to expect. What kind of advice are you giving to whistleblowers?
Kreindler: Usually when it comes to advice I think it’s really: Paper your case. Make sure you have the proof and the information to back up what you’re claiming. The False Claims Act is not a tip statute; it’s a statute where you need to come in and really prove your claims.
Then, once they’ve gotten to the point where we can move forward on that basis, it’s always: Be patient, because these cases take a long time to resolve — anywhere, probably, from three to five years. And many of the larger ones take much longer. So it requires a lot of patience, because nothing happens quickly.
Oswald: So there’s a lot of activity in the beginning and then kind of a lull over time?
Kreindler: Hurry up to wait.
Oswald: I got it. So let’s talk about our venue, the Southern District of Texas. Let’s say that one is considering filing a False Claims Act case in the Southern District of Texas. What are some of the things that relators’ counsel might consider?
Kreindler: Well, one of the things that I think most people don’t know is that the Southern District has some really terrific AUSAs. There are some very, very strong attorneys on the government side who not only are good at their jobs, but really enjoy working with relators — and do see relators as being partners in False Claims Act cases. That’s not something that you find in a lot of jurisdictions around the country. So that’s number one.
Number two is really just making sure that you come in with a strong case. I don’t think that’s different from other jurisdictions, where the more information you have, the more you’ve thought through your theory of liability, the more detailed your allegations, the better reception you’re going to get.
Oswald: So relators’ counsel can actually expect to work with the AUSA on the case in the Southern District of Texas if they file out there?
Kreindler: Absolutely. They really do set up a strong partnership where they don’t just report to you every few months. Usually you will work very closely, hand-in-hand with the government on those cases.
Oswald: What do you like the most about being whistleblower counsel?
Kreindler: I like being able to facilitate people’s stories.
People who are whistleblowers have had a hard time finding a path to stop the fraud. Sometimes they think they’re nuts, right, because they think they’re the only one who sees it — because at their company they’re being told to shut up, just go along to get along. And maybe their spouse is telling them, ‘You need this job, keep your head down and shut up.’
And so when they finally find someone like myself, it’s like suddenly the cloud has lifted, and the burden is lifted off their shoulders, and they find a partner to help them push these allegations.
So I sleep well every night. We’re always on the side of right. We’re on the side of good. We’re always partnering with the government to try to stop fraud — so it’s a very rewarding practice from that standpoint.
But really, advancing the whistleblower’s claims and helping the whistleblower get their story out is probably the most rewarding thing.
Oswald: Mitch, tell us a little about you. When you’re not lawyering, give us a sense of where you spend your time.
Kreindler: Well, in the last couple of years my wife and I have become empty-nesters. So this creates a whole new freedom — and anybody who’s got kids will like to know that empty-nesterhood is a reward for years and years of parenting. We’ve been doing a lot of travel and I think that will probably continue at least for the foreseeable future. We’re just kind of enjoying that time.
Oswald: Mitch, thank you.
Kreindler: Thank you, Scott.
Oswald: [Addressing camera] And to everyone, our conference will be on February 21, 2019, in Houston. You can sign up at fedbar.org, and we look forward to seeing you there.