Qui Tam: Reporting Fraud Against the Government
Qui Tam actions allow the government to recover money that it lost due to fraud. Qui tam lawsuits can involve substantial monetary recovery, a portion of which goes to the person who initiated the action.
Qui tam allows an individual, “a relator,” to file a lawsuit alleging false claims and charging fraud by entities, companies or other government contractors who receive or use government funds. The relator is usually an employee who brings a case against their current or past employer, and if successful, who then shares in the recovery made on behalf of the government.
A false claim includes claims where a defendant, with knowledge or with reckless disregard, makes false reports about the quality of the product, fails to deliver a product sold, overcharges the government, charges for services never provided, or asserts a scheme intended to defraud or steal from the government.
The case is initially brought under seal, meaning that the identity of the relator for the beginning stages of the lawsuit is kept a secret. If the case proceeds beyond the investigation stages to the litigation stage, the case is then unsealed.
Qui Tam law suits
These suits are commonly brought in the following contexts:
- Healthcare (Medicare and Medicaid) Fraud, such as improper activities by pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers or healthcare providers resulting in the government paying for medically unnecessary services or being overcharged, fraudulently billed, among other types of billing false claims. It can also include falsifying information for grants or research projects.
- Contractor Fraud, such as kickbacks or bribes to win contracts, or making a false certification of regulatory or statutory compliant necessary to obtain a contract.
- Military or Defense contractors, such as contractors supplying faulty equipment.
- Environmental Fraud, such as contractors who fail to comply with or report misconduct in connection with environmental statutes or regulations.
Typically, the relator has some kind of inside information concerning the defendant’s submission to the U.S. government of false or fraudulent claims for payment.
The False Claims Act, under which these suits are brought, allows the relator to receive a portion (depending on the relator’s involvement and if the government participates, usually between 15-25%) of the recovered damages and thus provides a strong civil remedy against parties that defraud the government. Indeed, qui tam suits have been remarkably successful in the past few decades, recovering more than $28 billion in damages, significantly benefiting U.S. taxpayers. In fiscal year 2009 alone, the government recovered $2.4 billion in settlements and judgments, the second largest yearly recovery in history. Just in the health care context, the government recovers $15 for every $1 spent on investigating and prosecuting the fraud.
If your case involves issues of law beyond our expertise, we will partner with some of the most successful and experienced qui tam lawyers in the country to ensure that you receive outstanding legal representation throughout the life of your (potential) case.
An employee who is harassed, discriminated against or the subject of retaliation for being a whistleblower has rights. The employee generally must be able to show:
- He or she was engaged in protected activity in pursuing a qui tam lawsuit;
- The employer had knowledge of the employee’s protected activity; and
- The employer retaliated against the employee because of the employee’s protected activity.
An employee is entitled to additional damages if he or she is retaliated against and has the evidence to establish that retaliation.