What are the Potential Rewards for Whistleblowers who bring Qui Tam Lawsuits?
Whistleblowers who bring qui tam lawsuits, also known as “whistleblower lawsuits” or “False Claims Act” lawsuits, may be eligible for several rewards, including:
- Monetary Rewards: Whistleblowers may be entitled to receive a percentage of any money recovered as a result of their qui tam lawsuit. Under the False Claims Act, whistleblowers can receive between 15% and 30% of the total amount recovered by the government.
- Job Protection: The False Claims Act provides job protection for whistleblowers who report fraud or other wrongdoing. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against whistleblowers who report fraud or other misconduct.
- Protection from Retaliation: Whistleblowers are also entitled to legal protection from retaliation, including being fired, demoted, or harassed, by their employers or co-workers as a result of their whistleblowing activities.
- Public Service: Whistleblowers who bring qui tam lawsuits are often motivated by a desire to expose wrongdoing and protect the public. The satisfaction of knowing that they have helped to expose fraud, waste, and abuse can be a powerful reward for many whistleblowers.
- Reputation Enhancement: Whistleblowers who bring qui tam lawsuits may also enhance their reputation as individuals who are willing to stand up for what is right, even when it is difficult or unpopular.
If your qui tam case is successful, the False Claims Act provides for, with some exceptions, a recovery range, 15-25 percent if the government intervenes, and if the government chooses not to intervene, 25-30 percent.
The award the plaintiff receives depends on a variety of factors, including:
- Whether the information was previously known to the government
- Did the whistleblower report the fraud promptly?
- Upon learning of the fraud, did the whistleblower attempt to stop it, or report it to a supervisor?
- Did the qui tam filing or investigation cause the defendant to stop the fraudulent practices?
- Did the whistleblower have extensive, first hand details of the fraud?
- Was there a substantial, adverse impact on the whistleblower as a result of filing the complaint?
- Was the whistleblower involved in the illegal activity?
- The plaintiff’s award is generally resolved by negotiation between the Department of Justice and the qui tam plaintiff’s lawyers. The court will become involved if there is no agreement.
What is a Qui Tam Relator?
A Qui Tam Relator, also known as a “whistleblower,” is an individual who files a lawsuit on behalf of the government against a person or company that has defrauded the government. The Qui Tam Relator is also known as the “plaintiff” in the lawsuit.
Under the False Claims Act (FCA), a federal law that allows individuals to bring qui tam lawsuits, a Qui Tam Relator can file a lawsuit against a person or company that has knowingly submitted false or fraudulent claims to the government. This can include, for example, healthcare providers who submit fraudulent claims to Medicare or Medicaid, defense contractors who overcharge the government for goods or services, or companies that violate environmental regulations and receive government funds.
If the Qui Tam Relator’s lawsuit is successful and the government recovers money as a result of the lawsuit, the Qui Tam Relator may be eligible for a percentage of the recovered funds as a reward for exposing the fraud. The FCA provides incentives and protections for whistleblowers to encourage them to come forward with information about fraud against the government.
Should I file a Qui Tam suit?
When considering if you should file a qui tam suit against a current or past employer or even a business partner or associate, the central question to answer is: do you have non-public or “insider” information which reveals that an individual or entity has committed fraud that is damaging to the federal government?
Contrary to what you might have heard, you do not have to have been harmed personally to file a qui tam case. If you have been harmed personally, the law allows you to pursue a retaliation claim against the defendant.
A few resources that can help you to make an informed decision regarding pursuing qui tam litigation include our Qui Tam Overview, featuring an informative video; qui tam statistics on judgements and settlements, currently updated through 2019; specific results on qui tam cases pursued by Berg & Androphy for our clients; and information on retaliation against whistleblowers who have pursued qui tam actions.
Our Commitment to You:
We receive many calls and emails about these fraud issues. Although we have a team of trial qui tam lawyers reviewing your claims, we do not accept all cases. We spend a considerable amount of time reviewing and analyzing all cases. This process includes an investigation of the facts, the law, and sometimes consultation with experts. When we accept a case, we make a major financial and time commitment in pursuing the case. Unlike many law firms, Berg & Androphy is a trial firm, and will litigate False Claims Act cases even if the government declines intervention.
Many law firms do not have the resources or expertise to pursue a False Claims Act case without government intervention, and will withdraw from representation if the federal and state governments reject the case. When selecting a law firm you should ask about this commitment and expertise. Although we will consider the federal and state governments’ positions, we have the staff and resources to pursue the case without government assistance.