Fraud occurs across America all the time. Individuals and companies in multiple industries cost governments billions of dollars that have been stolen from the US Treasury, the Florida Treasury, and ultimately from the taxpayers. That is where a qui tam lawsuit comes in. A qui tam whistleblower can help the government recover funds that have been taken by fraud — potentially receiving a significant reward in return.
What is a Qui Tam Lawsuit?
Qui tam comes from a Latin phrase, “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur.” The rough translation of this phrase is “he who brings an action for the king as well as for himself.” A qui tam lawsuit is brought by a whistleblower under the False Claims Act. If successful in assisting the government in recovering losses, the whistleblower is rewarded for their assistance.
A qui tam lawyer serves as your legal advocate throughout the litigation process to help successfully prove your case. Qui tam lawsuits cover a wide array of fraud and abuse, including:
- Medicare fraud
- Medicaid fraud
- Defense contractor fraud
- Best Price cases — price manipulation; claims for overcharging government entities
- Trade Agreement Act (TAA) cases — violations in government contracts
- Off-label Marketing cases —unlawful marketing of pharmaceuticals
- Charging the government for work that was not completed properly or which was completed using substandard parts
What is the Federal False Claims Act?
The federal False Claims Act is an “American federal law that imposes liability on persons and companies (typically federal contractors) who defraud governmental programs. It is the Federal Government’s primary litigation tool in combating fraud against the Government.”
In the United States, qui tam goes all the way back to the days of the Civil War, where fraud and abuse were rampant on all levels in both the Union north and the Confederate south. It was during 1863 that Congress passed the False Claims Act during the Abraham Lincoln administration — giving it the name “Lincoln Law.”
Utilizing the False Claims Act, any private citizen has the right to sue a business or an individual that is defrauding the federal or state government. The suit is brought in the name of the United States or state government, and the whistleblower is called me “relator.” Whistleblowers may also have their own claim, typically for retaliation.
What Are the Protections and Rewards for a Qui Tam Whistleblower?
Filing a qui tam lawsuit has its protections — and its rewards. Due to potential personal and professional risks, whistleblowers, under the False Claims Act, have job protection. However, we recommend you contact us before you “blow the whistle.”
The False Claims Act has an anti-retaliation provision for whistleblowers who are either considering filing a claim or for those who do decide to file a claim. This can include retaliation such as demotion, being fired, sidelined, being blackballed, or similar measures. It also allows the whistleblower to seek compensation if or when job retaliation does occur.
If you file a qui tam claim, you can be eligible to receive a percentage of the total amount of money recouped from the fraudulent practices.
Whistleblowers who file under the act receive a reward for bringing the action in the range of 15-25 percent of those recovered funds. There are various factors that can affect the amount of reward that a qui tam whistleblower will receive — a lawyer who brings these kinds of cases can be your best ally in maximizing the amount of the reward.
If a defendant is found liable under the False Claims Act, they may be required to pay up to three times the losses that the government endured — plus penalties for each false claim.
Did you know that between 1987 and 2013, the government recovered $38.9 billion under the False Claims Act? Of that $38.9 billion, $27.2 billion (70%) was due to qui tam cases brought by whistleblowers, also known as “relators.”
How is a Qui Tam Whistleblower’s Privacy Protected?
Additional measures are in place for the privacy protection of anyone who files a qui tam complaint. Under the False Claims Act, once you secure a qui tam lawyer and a claim is filed, the case is sealed for 60 days.
What this means is that no one but the government (and you and your qui tam lawyer) knows about the case. It is kept secret from the party that is accused of fraud.
As a general rule, the court often grants extensions to give the government the appropriate amount of time to investigate and decide if it wants to join (intervene) in the case. These interventions do not happen very often.
It is not uncommon for the government to ask the court to partially lift the seal for the qui tam case for a discussion and possible settlement negotiations. Your attorney is there with you every step of the way to make sure your legal rights are protected. Settlements occur more often than resolution through trial.
Consult With a Qui Tam Lawyer about Your Case
Do you have evidence that your employer or another individual/company has committed fraud against the government? You have the right to file a qui tam claim to hold them accountable for their unlawful actions. Due to the complexities of these types of cases, it is very important to hire a qui tam lawyer not only to ensure you are following all the right steps but also to get the best outcome possible.
We can help you determine the best course of action in regards to filing qui tam claims for Medicare fraud, Medicaid fraud, Defense Contractor fraud, Best Price cases, and other areas covered by the False Claim Act. Our lawyers work tirelessly and give you in-depth insight backed by exceptional legal expertise, helping you every step of the way with a qui tam claim. It is important to understand the risks and the rewards of pursuing a qui tam case.
Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. believes that you should have the same quality representation as individuals and companies that defraud the government, and we have the passion, diligence, and relentless energy for pursuing employee and qui tam whistleblower rights. We recently assisted a whistleblower in recovering $5.1 million dollars from a local business that was cheating the state and federal governments.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.