Who can bring a qui tam lawsuit and what are the requirements to do so
Imagine you are working for a company that has been defrauding the federal government, and you feel compelled to speak up. But you worry about the consequences of blowing the whistle, including retaliation and job loss. After all, it’s important to you that you’re able to keep your job and not face retaliation for doing the right thing.
In a situation like this, it’s normal to feel like you’re at an impossible crossroads. With both options coming with their fair share of risks, what can you do?
Enter the Qui Tam lawsuit. The big hero in this situation, Qui Tam is a powerful legal tool that allows private citizens to sue on behalf of the government and receive a share of the recovery. In this article, we will explore who can bring a Qui Tam lawsuit, what the requirements are to do so, and why this type of legal action is so crucial in the fight against fraud. As attorneys who are passionate about justice and accountability, we at Berg & Anthony believe that Qui Tam lawsuits are an integral tool in the fight against fraud.
Defining The Basics
First, let’s delve deeper into what Qui Tam lawsuits actually are, and exactly why they are important. Qui tam lawsuits are a type of civil lawsuit that allows private individuals to bring in a lawsuit on behalf of the government against individuals or companies who have defrauded the government. While the government has very limited resources to investigate and prosecute fraud, Qui Tam lawsuits can empower citizens to act as watchdogs and hold fraudsters accountable.
These lawsuits can be brought under various federal and state statutes, including the False Claims Act, which is the most commonly used statute. The False Claims Act allows relators to bring lawsuits for fraud involving government contracts, grants, loans, and other payments.
Some examples of fraud under the False Claims Act are:
- Submitting false claims for payment
- Inflating costs
- Providing substandard goods or services.
Qui tam cases can involve a range of fraudulent activities, including healthcare fraud such as Medicare and Medicaid fraud, which can harm taxpayers and the federal government. In response, the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigates and prosecutes these cases to recover funds and protect taxpayer interests. The FCA, enacted during the Civil War and amended over time, includes qui tam provisions and whistleblower protection, and the Supreme Court has weighed in on the interpretation of these provisions. With qui tam suits, private citizens can act on behalf of the United States government to combat different types of fraud, including kickbacks, and receive reasonable attorneys’ fees and special damages.
Whistleblowers then can receive a whistleblower reward of up to 30% of the total recovery in a qui tam case, as well as back pay and other damages. These Qui Tam cases can be filed in district court or in the name of the United States Government, and they have a statute of limitations of six years from the date of the fraudulent claim.
Who Can Bring A Qui Tam Lawsuit?
As mentioned earlier, any individual who has knowledge of fraud committed against the government can bring a qui tam lawsuit. This includes employees, contractors, and even competitors of the company committing the fraud.
It is important to note that the relator does not have to be directly harmed by the fraud. Rather, the relator is seeking to stop the fraud and recover money that has been wrongfully taken from the government.
To bring a successful Qui Tam lawsuit, the relator must meet certain requirements.
- They must have direct and independent knowledge of the fraud, meaning that the information was not obtained through public sources or another person’s investigation. This requirement helps ensure that the information provided to the government is reliable and actionable.
- Additionally, the relator must be the first to file the lawsuit. This is known as the first-to-file rule, and it prevents multiple lawsuits based on the same fraud. If someone else has already filed a qui tam lawsuit based on the same fraud, the second individual cannot bring a lawsuit.
- The relator must also not have publicly disclosed the information about the fraud before filing the lawsuit. This requirement helps prevent individuals from leaking information to the press or otherwise disclosing the information to the public before the government has had a chance to investigate.
- Finally, the fraud must have resulted in financial harm to the government. This means that the fraud must have caused the government to pay out money that it would not have paid out otherwise. This requirement helps ensure that qui tam lawsuits are only brought when there a real harm to the government.
If these requirements are met, the relator can bring a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the government. If the lawsuit is successful, the relator is entitled to a percentage of the recovery, which can be substantial. Qui tam lawsuits have become an important tool in the fight against fraud, and we at Berg & Anthony are proud to help individuals who want to come forward and do the right thing.
Where We Come In
At Berg & Anthony, we have experience representing relators in Qui Tam lawsuits. We understand the complex legal and procedural requirements, and we are committed to helping our clients navigate the process. We also recognize the bravery it takes to blow the whistle on fraud, and we work tirelessly to protect our clients from retaliation and to ensure that they receive the rewards they deserve.
In delicate cases such as these, it is important to work with experienced qui tam attorneys who understand the complex legal requirements of these cases and can help you navigate the process, including the original source requirement and Hac Parte Sequitur rule. As an LLP law firm, we specialize in qui tam law and can provide legal advice and representation to whistleblowers in these cases, including protecting your rights to reinstatement if you face retaliation for bringing a whistleblower case.
If you have knowledge of fraud committed against the government or have questions about qui tam lawsuits, please do not hesitate to contact us.