Qui tam is a key provision of the Federal Civil False Claims Act that allows a private citizen to file a lawsuit on behalf of the U.S. Government seeking to expose and stop fraud or false claims by companies that do business with, or are reimbursed by the United States.
“Qui Tam” is short for the Latin phrase qui tam pro domino rege quam pro siepse, meaning “he who is as much for the king as for himself.” The False Claims Act / Qui Tam law is sometimes known as the “Lincoln law” because it was first enacted by President Lincoln during the Civil War. The law was revitalized and strengthened in 1986.
To speak with a skilled False Claims Act litigation lawyers about a false claim lawsuit, call Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. at 205-933-1500 today.
Anyone can file a qui tam action alleging that a false claim has been submitted to the government. Types of false claims include overcharging the government, charging for services never provided, selling something and not delivering it, making false reports about the quality of a product, failing to properly test products, or any scheme intended to cheat, defraud, or steal from the government.
The False Claims Act covers a wide variety of situations, including but not limited to:
In a qui tam or whistleblower case, a private individual or organization files a lawsuit on behalf of the government to prevent or recover from fraudulent activity that cost the government. Cases of this type are filed by a “relator,” who is the person that learns of certain types of fraudulent acts that are being conducted against the government. The relator may file a complaint under seal, which means that it remains confidential for a period of time.
Qui tam actions must be filed in a U.S. District Court that has proper jurisdiction. The complaint must also be accompanied by a “written disclosure of substantially all material evidence and information the person possesses.” The main purpose of the written disclosure is to provide the government with enough information to properly investigate the claim in order to determine if it will join in the lawsuit. If the government joins in the suit, the Department of Justice will lead the prosecution of the case.
Qui tam actions carry with them the potential for substantial monetary judgments being entered against the defendants. A portion of that award will go to the person who initiated the action. An experienced qui tam litigation attorney can analyze your case and determine how much the likely award will be.
The False Claims Act provides that the government shall recover three times the amount of money it lost as a result of the fraud, plus a recovery of between $5,000 and $11,000 for each false claim submitted by the defendant. In addition, the defendant must pay the fees and the case expenses of the relator’s attorney.
In return for filing and pursuing a successful qui tam lawsuit, the law provides for a reward of 15-30 percent of the monies recovered. Like similar whistleblower laws, the False Claims Act / Qui Tam law provision prohibits an employer from harassing or retaliating against an employee for attempting to uncover or report fraud on the federal government.
The entire staff of Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. is dedicated to the needs of our clients and to achieving the best possible result for each individual client. Contact our business litigation attorneys to work with an experienced and dedicated attorney who cares about your case. Call us today at 205-933-1500.
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