What is Qui Tam?
If you’ve uncovered evidence indicating that your employer may be defrauding the federal government, you may have a civil lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act called a “qui tam” action.
False Claims Act
The federal law, known as the False Claims Act compensates people, known as whistleblowers, who can bring a lawsuit to recover monies on behalf of the government as a result of fraudulent claims submitted to the government for payment. Qui tam lawsuits have been filed to recover funds for Medicare or Medicaid fraud, fraud committed by defense contractors, fraud perpetrated by educational institutions and other kinds of fraud which have a financial impact on the United States government.
The State of Arizona doesn’t have a False Claims Act, but whistleblowers can take action under the federal False Claims Act. If you think you may have a claim, it’s critical to contact an attorney right away. All relevant evidence should be reviewed by an experienced attorney to determine if the potential case has merit.
Department of Justice
If a decision is made to move forward with a lawsuit, a qui tam action is filed under seal in federal court. The lawsuit is kept a secret from everyone except the government who will be investigating the claims of fraud through the U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) as well as the federal agency who has received and paid possible fraudulent claims. A qui tam lawsuit will remain under seal for 60 days. The timeframe may be extended if further investigation is needed.
Once the preliminary investigation is complete, the government will decide whether or not to join the qui tam lawsuit. While this does not often happen, the chances of success increase substantially if the government decides to intervene. During the time frame, the relator and their lawyer will work to convince officials that their case has merit and will result in financial recovery. If the government does not decide to step in, the relator can continue independently.
The financial rewards in qui tam lawsuits can be enormous. If a defendant is found to be liable under the federal False Claims Act, it will have to pay for the government’s losses, plus penalties for each false claim. If the government has joined a qui tam lawsuit and they can recover funds via a settlement or trial, the relator is entitled to 15 to 20 percent of the recovery.
The Department of Justice obtained more than $4.7 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud and false claims against the government in the fiscal year 2016. As a relator, you will be helping to expose government fraud and abuse, which costs everyone money.
If you think you may have a claim, contact the Leader Law Firm for a free and confidential evaluation.
Resource: For further reading, click here Government Accountability Project.