The Unsung Heroes of Justice: Who can bring a lawsuit under the False Claims Act, and what does it mean to do so?
In a world dominated by the harmonious blend of law and justice, there emerges a set of unexpected protagonists. Picture the courageous, whistle-blowing crusaders; the vigilant individuals who bear the torch of truth, wielding the power of the False Claims Act (FCA), a pivotal federal law in the United States. Today, we delve into the heart of this Act, embarking on a quest to discover who exactly can bring a qui tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act.
As we navigate the intricacies of this federal law, it becomes apparent that we’re exploring an area that sits at the intriguing intersection of employment law and government contract law. This terrain is dominated by false claims, allegations of fraudulent activities, and retaliation against those who dare to speak up. Our protagonists in this narrative are none other than the whistleblowers, or as the FCA prefers to call them, “qui tam plaintiffs”.
Simply speaking, a qui tam plaintiff can be anyone, from any walk of life. If a private citizen believes there is reason to file suits on behalf of the government (called “qui tam” suits) against those who have defrauded the government, they are allowed and encouraged to do so. But what exactly does this mean?
Introducing Qui Tam
Borrowed from Latin, “qui tam” is an abbreviation of “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur”, translating to “he who brings a case on behalf of our lord the King, as well as for himself”. This concept breathes life into the FCA, enabling a private citizen to bring a qui tam case against an entity allegedly defrauding government funds. Qui tam lawsuits, by their very nature, often uncover not just simple cases of fraud but also more heinous acts such as health care fraud, tax fraud, and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Navigating a Complex World: Qui Tam Warriors and the System of Accountability
The whistleblowers who step forward often face retaliation, including wrongful termination. Their cases may span the gamut from Medicaid fraud to government contract fraud.
Importantly, the qui tam action must be rooted in the whistleblower’s “original source” knowledge of the fraudulent claim. This direct, independent knowledge must be voluntarily provided to the federal government before filing an FCA case. It is then the prerogative of the Justice Department, the principal federal criminal investigation and enforcement agency, to intervene in the lawsuit.
Celebrating Truth and Justice: The Importance of the False Claims Act
The complex world of the False Claims Act is, therefore, navigated by qui tam pro warriors: the whistleblowers who raise the alarm, the qui tam lawyers who guide them, and the federal government that provides the final checks and balances. Together, they form an intricate system of accountability, justice, and truth.
These whistleblowers play a vital role, backed by the invaluable support of the qui tam attorney like those at Berg & Androphy, and the federal government’s vigilant oversight. The False Claims Act stands as a testament to the value of truth and justice, reminding us that it isn’t merely a concept upheld by courts and judges; it’s a responsibility shared by us all, and championed by any citizen who feels so empowered.