Qui tam lawsuits are an incredibly powerful way in which members of the public (otherwise known as whistleblowers or Relators) can testify against individuals and companies who are operating in a manner to defraud the government of money. There are many types of fraud that have a direct impact upon the government, and Medicare and Medicaid fraud alone cost the government upwards of $30 billion each and every year. Other types of governmental fraud include defense contract fraud and Tax Fraud (although the latter is handled slightly differently).
Qui Tam Lawsuits
Government fraud is big business and is committed on a monumental scale. Government agencies cannot possibly police every single claim, so they rely on everyday people to report such goings on to the relevant agencies who can then bring about a proper investigation. At the same time the whistleblower can be handsomely rewarded for the personal and professional risks that they may be taking, but only after finding a skilled qui tam lawyer to represent them. When the person sues the corrupt entity on behalf of the government they are knows as a Relator. Qui Tam lawsuits can either be filed on behalf of the Federal government or State governments. As of today, there are 28 States with Qui Tam statutes.
Whistleblowing cases are notoriously difficult to deal with and that is why a person needs an experienced team of qui tam lawyers who are used to dealing with such cases. This is vital as the work done by the team will have a big impact upon whether the case is won, and furthermore, if the whistleblower is going to be paid for putting themselves on the line.
When a whistleblower comes forward, then under the rules of qui tam, the case is filed under seal. This means that it is kept secret from everyone except the government, in order to give the Department of Justice (DOJ) time to investigate. This is usually for a minimum period of around 60 days although it can be extended by the courts. That means that even the business, person or persons being accused of the scam are not told that there is a qui tam case against them. The evidence should be presented in such a way that it provides very detailed information about fraud and this is where a team of Qui tam lawyers who understand how to handle such a case can help. If you think you have information about fraud committed against the government, it’s important that you speak with a qui tam lawyer who can advise you on what to do you. You can call us toll free at 1-888-204-1014 for a free consultation. We take cases from across the United States from all fifty states.
Whistle Blower Relator Rewards
The amount a whistleblower can earn from such a case depends upon a lot of factors including the quality of the work by the representing qui tam lawyer and the quality of the case presented before the courts. If the government does intervene and the case is successful then it is likely that the whistleblower will receive somewhere between 10% -25% of the full reward money. If on the other hand the government doesn't get involved, then is likely to be between 25% and 30% if successful.
As you can see, qui tam law can be extremely complex and is unlike any other form of law that we have today. For this reason it is always best to find an experienced and highly skilled qui tam attorney who understands the law to represent you.
Types of False Claims
What types of claims would qualify under Qui Tam as defrauding the government? It can really range, but typical areas include: Pharma, Defense, TARP Funds, and Shovel Ready projects.
Common types of false claims:
- Kickbacks or bribes
- Off label marketing
- Charging for goods or services never provided
- Falsifying the quantity or quality of goods or services provided
- Reverse false claims (failing to return funds)
- Best Price
- Falsifying certifications of testing or compliance
- Falsifying doctors or employees time sheets
Whistleblower Protection Provisions Under Qui Tam
The government realizes that certain whistleblower protection provisions were necessary in order to protect people who come forward with information. Clearly when a whistleblower is blowing the cover of the scam that is being committed, it is likely that if they are found out, that they are not going to be liked. This is one of the main reasons why the law places the case under seal. However in some instances whistleblowers do get discovered, he or she may be subject to termination, suspension, demotion, harassment and indeed threats. Under whistleblower protection an employer, supervisor or work colleague may not in any way commit any of the above actions on the person. If they are found to be in breach then the whistleblower is entitled to sue for damages filed directly against the person causing the problems.
Government Intervention on Qui Tam
When a qui tam case is being reviewed the government will decide if they are going to intervene or join in on the case. In reality the government departments only ever intervene in a very small percentage of cases. When the government doesn’t intervene, whistleblowers have the option to say whether they want to pursue the case under the qui tam laws. If they choose to continue then they should be aware that the person stands a much better chance (although not impossible) of winning the case when the government does actually intervene.
In many cases governments will often ask courts to lift a seal on a case if they feel that they might be able to discuss a settlement figure with the defendant. It is worth pointing out that most successful qui tam law cases are settled out of court through negotiations and any experienced group of qui tam attorneys who are skilled in negotiation can provide an estimate settlement figure for their client of what the case may be worth.
Qui Tam Law History
It is sometimes referred to as the Lincoln Law or the False Claims Act and goes back to the days of Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War. Originally businesses were awarded contracts to provide supplies and provisions for the Unionist and Confederate armies. However it was found that sick and decrepit mules and horses, malfunctioning rifles and faulty ammunition, as well as rancid rations were being supplied to both parties. In return for supplying substandard goods, businesses were being paid what at the time was a considerable amount of money by the governments on both sides. Something had to be done and this is when in 1865, President Lincoln brought in the False Claims Act.
Qui tam is a shortened version of the phrase “qui tam pro domino rege quam prose ipso in hac parte sequitir” which translated means: he who sues in this matter does so for the king and also for himself. What this really meant is that any person who had knowledge of any type of fraud being committed against the government could bring about a civil lawsuit on behalf of the government. In return for a successful case, the person who brought about the charge could receive a percentage of the amount recovered.Qui Tam Articles