Whistleblower lawsuits

We provide comprehensive legal representation, guiding clients through the complex process of filing a qui tam lawsuit and assisting them in protecting their rights while seeking justice and potential financial rewards under the False Claims Act (FCA).

What does qui tam mean?

"Qui tam" is a Latin phrase that translates to "he who sues on behalf of himself as well as the king." The term refers to a legal principle that allows an individual, known as a whistleblower or relator, to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the government against someone who has defrauded the government. In a qui tam case, the whistleblower represents the interests of both themselves and the government, seeking to expose fraud and recover damages.

The term "qui tam" originates from an old legal concept where individuals were permitted to initiate legal action to enforce certain laws on behalf of the sovereign or the king. The principle recognizes that the government may not always be aware of fraudulent activities or have the resources to pursue every case so, it empowers private citizens to act as "private attorneys general" and bring actions against wrongdoers. Qui tam cases are often associated with the FCA in the United States, which allows whistleblowers to file lawsuits on behalf of the federal government in cases of fraud involving government funds.

What is a qui tam case?

A qui tam case is a legal action brought by an individual, known as a whistleblower, on behalf of the government against someone who has defrauded the government. These cases are typically filed in the context of government programs or contracts, such as healthcare fraud, defense procurement fraud, or tax evasion.

In a qui tam case, the whistleblower, also known as the relator, brings the lawsuit against the alleged wrongdoer, usually a person or a company, claiming that they have committed fraud against the government. The whistleblower's motivation is often to expose the fraud and recover damages on behalf of the government. If the lawsuit is successful, the whistleblower may receive a percentage of the recovered funds as a reward, which serves as an incentive for individuals to come forward and report fraud.

Qui tam cases are primarily associated with the United States under the FCA, although similar mechanisms exist in some other countries. The FCA allows private individuals to file lawsuits on behalf of the federal government when they have evidence of fraud involving federal funds. The government has the option to intervene and take over the case, or the whistleblower can proceed with the lawsuit independently if the government declines to intervene.

Qui tam cases can be complex and require substantial evidence to prove the alleged fraud. Whistleblowers who consider filing a qui tam case often consult with attorneys experienced in this area of law to understand the legal requirements, potential risks, and rewards associated with pursuing such claims.

What are some types of qui tam cases?

Qui tam cases can encompass various types of fraud or misconduct involving government funds or programs. Here are some common examples of qui tam cases:

  • Healthcare Fraud: This involves fraudulent activities within the healthcare industry such as submitting false claims for medical services, overbilling, providing unnecessary procedures, or engaging in kickback schemes.
  • Defense Contractor Fraud: These cases involve fraudulent practices by companies that contract with the government for defense-related projects such as overcharging, delivering substandard products, or misrepresenting costs.
  • Financial Industry Fraud: This includes cases involving fraud within the banking, mortgage, or securities industries, such as submitting false claims, making fraudulent statements, or engaging in insider trading.
  • Tax Fraud: Qui tam cases related to tax fraud typically involve individuals or businesses evading taxes, submitting false tax returns, or engaging in fraudulent schemes to reduce their tax liability.
  • Environmental Violations: These cases involve fraudulent or illegal activities related to environmental regulations such as improper disposal of hazardous waste, pollution, or falsifying environmental impact reports.
  • Government Contract Fraud: Qui tam cases can involve fraudulent practices in government contracting where companies misrepresent their qualifications, inflate costs, or violate the terms of the contract.
  • Grant Fraud: This type of qui tam case relates to fraudulent activities involving grants awarded by the government or other funding agencies where individuals or organizations misuse grant funds, provide false information or fail to meet the grant's requirements.

What protects me as a whistleblower?

Whistleblowers have substantial protections such as:

  1. Confidentiality: Qui tam complaints are typically filed under seal, meaning they are kept confidential initially. This allows the government to investigate the allegations without the defendant knowing about the case. It provides relators with protection against retaliation while the case is under investigation.
  2. Anti-Retaliation Provisions: Various laws, such as the FCA in the United States, contain provisions that prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who report fraud. If a relator faces retaliation such as termination, demotion, harassment, or threats, they may have legal recourse to seek remedies, including reinstatement, back pay, and compensatory damages.
  3. Whistleblower Rewards: Qui tam relators may be eligible to receive a percentage of the recovered funds as a reward or whistleblower bounty. This serves as an incentive for individuals to come forward and report fraud, as they can potentially receive a substantial financial award if the case is successful.
  4. Job Protection: Relators may have job protection, meaning they cannot be fired or face adverse employment actions solely based on their participation in the qui tam case. These protections help ensure that individuals who expose fraud are not unfairly penalized by their employers.
  5. Legal Representation: Relators have the right to seek legal representation to guide them through the legal process and protect their interests. Attorneys experienced in qui tam cases can help whistleblowers understand their rights, assist in filing the complaint, and advocate for their protection throughout the legal proceedings.

How much does a whistleblower stand to recover?

An FCA whistleblower can receive between 15 and 30 % of the total recovery the U.S. gets from the defendant. If the government intervenes in the case and the case is successful through a settlement or a trial, the whistleblower is entitled to between 15 to 25 % of the amounts collected by the government.

Also, each state has its own rules and regulations regarding filing a state qui tam relator reward case, so whistleblowers may be able to receive more. The final amounts depend on several factors, including the quality of the information and how the lawsuit is filed.

What should I do if I suspect fraud or some kind of misconduct?

Contact an experienced whistleblower lawyer to help you determine whether you have a viable claim and how to pursue it. You can contact us at quitam@markowitzherbold.com or visit our Oregon Whistleblower's Blog.

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