Questions And Answers About New Mexico’s Whistleblower Law
If you are aware of an unlawful or improper act committed by your employer and need help preserving your rights when reporting the violation, we will gladly answer your questions and explain how we can represent you. Egolf + Ferlic + Martinez + Harwood, LLC, fights for justice in many legal arenas, including through provisions of the Whistleblower Protection Act and the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.
What is the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act and how does it reward citizen whistleblowers?
The New Mexico Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (FATA) is a state law that allows citizens who suspect violations of state law, such as government fraud, to file “qui tam” lawsuits. In such cases, the state Attorney General’s Office can prosecute the allegations first if it wishes. If the government gets involved in the lawsuit in this way, the whistleblower may receive 15% to 25% of the proceeds of a claim. If a private citizen pursues the claim on their own, they may receive 25% to 30% of the proceeds.
What types of government fraud can be the basis of a FATA-defined ‘qui tam’ lawsuit?
Examples of illegal actions amounting to government fraud include false or fraudulent claims for payment presented to the government; misappropriation of state property; and deceptive avoidance of obligations to pay the state.
How can your law firm help me if I want to act as a whistleblower?
Our lawyers can help you navigate the recovery process under either the Whistleblower Protection Act or FATA from beginning to end, including handling any unexpected developments. We understand FATA and Whistleblower Protection cases inside and out. How these laws apply to your situation depends on many factors. When you discuss your situation with us, we will explain the law and your options for moving forward. We will fight to ensure that you receive your proper reward if your FATA lawsuit is successful.
What is an example of a FATA case that your firm has handled?
When a large health care insurer in New Mexico paid $18.5 million too little in taxes in 2003-4, three female employees of the insurer stepped forward as whistleblowers. The state’s attorney general, Hector Balderas, exercised his right to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the state and, in 2017, recovered the $18.5 million through a settlement. The women received a portion. However, when the state’s Office of Superintendent of Insurance subsequently recovered more from the same insurer through an administrative process, the state did not give the whistleblowers their rightful portion. Our law firm subsequently represented the women in a lawsuit pursuing their share of the entire recovery.