Whistleblower/Qui Tam Law

Qui Tam Actions

The federal government is a party to millions of transactions daily. It’s almost impossible to ensure every transaction is legitimate without the help of everyday citizens. But fear of retaliation can limit the incentive for citizens to “blow the whistle” on government waste and fraud.

By rewarding whistleblowers, qui tam actions incentivize the public to report fraudulent claims against the government and recover taxpayer money. But whistleblower law is extremely complex. If you have a qui tam action, we suggest consulting a whistleblower attorney in a city near you. These lawyers are experienced in qui tam actions and other types of whistleblower law and can give you the best legal advice.

What Does Qui Tam Mean?

It’s no secret that lawyers love their Latin. Qui tam is the short form of the Latin phrase qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur. That phrase roughly translates to “who sues on behalf of the King as well as for themself.” The doctrine survives in the U.S. as a provision in theFalse Claims Act.

A qui tam action is one where a person who assists in a prosecution can receive some of the financial penalties won by the government. It encourages private citizens to help the government enforce the law in return for a reward. Assisting in a prosecution doesn’t mean you have to be a lawyer, it just means you have to be a whistleblower.

The False Claims Act

The federal False Claims Act (FCA) imposes penalties against individuals and companies who defraud the federal government. The following conduct violates the FCA:

  • Knowingly presenting a false claim for payment
  • Knowingly making or using a false record or statement that’s part of a false claim
  • Conspiring to violate the FCA
  • Certifying receiving property on a document without completely knowing the information is true
  • Knowingly buying government property from an unauthorized government official
  • Knowingly making or using a false record to avoid an obligation to pay or send property to the government

A person doesn’t violate the FCA simply by submitting a false claim. Instead, they must know that the claim is false. The FCA doesn’t apply to tax fraud claims, which are handled under a different law.

The FCA has two methods of enforcement. The first is enforcement by the U.S. attorney general. The second, qui tam actions, allows private citizens to file a lawsuit on behalf of the government against an entity for defrauding the government.

Filing a Qui Tam Lawsuit

A successful qui tam lawsuit can mean a reward of 15%-30% of what the government recovers. But merely informing the government of the fraud is not enough. You must file a qui tam lawsuit to be eligible for the reward.

Types of Qui Tam Suits

Common types of fraud alleged in qui tam lawsuits include the following:

  • Medicare and Medicaid fraud
  • Defense contractor fraud
  • Fraudulent COVID relief claims
  • Procurement fraud

You cannot file a qui tam lawsuit in the following circumstances:

  • You’re reporting fraud that you were criminally convicted for being involved in.
  • There is already another qui tam suit or the government is already a party to a case related to the fraudulent conduct.
  • Your qui tam action is based on public information, unless you’re the original source of the public information.

Deadlines

The FCA includes a statute of limitations for filing a qui tam suit. You have six years from the date of the violation or three years after the government knows (or should have known) about the violation to file a lawsuit.

Anti-Retaliation Provisions in Qui Tam Lawsuits

The FCA’s qui tam provisions protect whistleblowers against retaliation by their employers for filing a lawsuit. This protection extends to independent contractors as well. Anyone who suffers retaliation, such as being fired, can sue to get their jobs back. A qui tam whistleblower may also win double back pay and extra damages.

What Happens After I File a Qui Tam Lawsuit?

When you file a qui tam lawsuit, you must provide supporting documentation about the fraud. Your attorney will confidentially file the lawsuit in a federal district court. Only the government will know about it. Even the person or business who allegedly committed the fraud won’t know.

The U.S. Department of Justice will investigate and decide if it wants to intervene or join your case. You should note that the government rarely intervenes. If it does, the government takes control of the case. If the government decides not to intervene, you can still continue with your case.

Examples of Qui Tam Cases

The following are some recent examples of real qui tam cases:

Contact an Experienced Whistleblower Attorney

Qui tam actions are complex. Consult an experienced whistleblower attorney if you need to report fraud against the government. A lawyer can provide legal advice, help you file a qui tam lawsuit, and represent you in court. They will look out for retaliation against you and protect your interests throughout the case.

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