If you don’t have the slightest idea what qui tam actions are, don’t worry; we will break it down for you in this blog post. To understand qui tam, we first have to have a basic understanding of the False Claims Act (FCA.) Essentially, the FCA is a law that says it is a crime for any person or organization to attempt to defraud the U.S. government by submitting, or being involved in the submission of, false or fraudulent claims, documents or statements, in an attempt to receive payment or to lower or eliminate an obligation to make payments to the government.
The qui tam provisions in the FCA encourage whistleblowers to come forward and to bring to light any actual or suspected violations of the FCA’s provisions. The qui tam statute was added to the existing law in 1986. Basically, qui tam actions are actions brought in federal court by private citizens against individuals or organizations that are suspected of having violated the False Claims Act (FCA.)
In some cases, these private citizens are then entitled to recover up to 30% of the total damages recovered in the case, in addition to recovering payment for their legal fees, and being afforded protection under the FCA for retaliatory actions taken by their employer (or former employer). The government can choose to intervene in a qui tam action, joining as a party. If the government decides not to intervene, the private citizen can still continue the action alone.
What Are the Most Common Qui Tam Actions?
Although there are many reasons for filing FCA qui tam actions, most of them fall under one or more of the following circumstances:
- Knowingly submitting false or fraudulent records or statements to the government.
- Knowingly submitting false benefit certifications to the government.
- Knowingly overcharging or mischarging the government.
- Intentionally billing the government for services not provided. Many of these claims often arise from billings related to medical services for which the patient was billed for more expensive services not received.
- Submitting Reverse False c Traditional FCA claims are filed because a person or organization filed a false record, document or statement in order to fraudulently obtain payment from the government. In a reverse false claim, a person or organization filed a false record, document or statement in order to “conceal, avoid or decrease an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government.” (31 USC § 3729(a)(7).
- Other actions that lead to stealing from, cheating or defrauding the g
Are Qui Tam Actions Limited to Current Employees?
No! A qui tam action can be filed by anyone who has knowledge of or information about a false or fraudulent claim or statement having been provided to the government in an attempt to obtain payment, or to decrease an obligation to pay. If you think you might have a case, it’s best to schedule a consultation with an experienced qui tam attorney who can help you determine whether you should move forward.
Qui tam actions are often filed by current employees of a company accused of violating the FCA, but these actions are not limited to current employees. Other parties often include former employees, subcontractors or temporary employees, competitors, employees of state, local or federal governments as individuals, state and local government employees on behalf of their government employer, corporations, private organizations and public interest groups.
As long as the individual bringing the qui tam action has knowledge of wrongdoing, they can blow the whistle and bring suit on the government’s behalf. Making the decision about whether to file a case can be rather involved. There are considerations you may not be aware of on your own, but your attorney can help you understand what’s at stake, what to expect, and what you might stand to gain if your case is successful.
When Should You Involve an Attorney?
If you are considering filing a qui tam action against your employer, it is important to talk to an experienced whistleblower attorney who can help you evaluate the strengths and merits of your claim. You should also talk to an attorney if you have brought your concerns to your employer’s attention already and have been the victim of any sort of harassment or other retaliatory action. You don’t have to go through this alone.
Find out what you need to know about protection against qui tam actions by calling 770.643.1606. The experienced fraud attorneys at Bothwell Law Group work exclusively on whistleblower and qui tam actions and will advocate vigorously for you.