A qui tam is a lawsuit brought by a whistleblower - a person who informs on a person or organization engaged in any illicit activity - to enforce the federal False Claims Act or analogue state statutes, laws that impose civil liability on persons or companies who knowingly make or cause others to make false claims for payment of government funds.
The whistleblower who brings in the case is referred to as the “relator” in this type of litigation. The government, not the relator, is considered the real plaintiff in the case. In these instances, if the lawsuit does end up being successful, the government can recover three times its damages plus civil penalties from the defendant. The relator in the case can also recover a significant percentage of the government’s recovery as a reward for initiating the lawsuit.
The term “qui tam” comes from the Latin phrase “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parter sequitur,” which means, “he who sues for the king as well as himself.”
A qui tam lawsuit is a powerful way for individuals to help the government stop many kinds of fraud and recover money for the US Treasury and American taxpayers. Some types of fraud alleged in qua tam claims include Medicare and Medicaid fraud, defense contract fraud, and procurement fraud. Qui tam lawsuits have helped recover billions that have been stolen from the US Treasury and taxpayers.
Whistleblowers may report tax frauds, securities law violations and commodities law violations under the US whistleblower protection and rewards programs, but those do not allow qui tam lawsuits.
Any individual with information about fraud against the government is eligible to become a whistleblower and bring a qui tam lawsuit. In most instances this is typically an employee of the company committing the fraud, but it could also be a competitor, a contractor or anyone else who has information about the fraud that is occurring.
A Cochran Firm attorney can file the qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the whistleblower or the “relator” in the qui tam cases. The qui tam lawsuit and supporting documents should provide the government with specific information about the fraud. You will want an attorney to help with the process as there are several guidelines to consider when filing a qui tam lawsuit. Also, a lawyer can help in expediting the filling process on your behalf and can prevent you from running into any legal roadblocks along the way. The law has some restrictions to prevent more than one whistleblower from being rewarded for reporting fraud and prevent qui tam lawsuits that are based on certain public information.
If you feel as if you have a qui tam lawsuit - time is of the essence. Our Cochran Firm attorneys can help navigate you through the legal process and get your lawsuit filed. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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