1. What is qui tam?
Qui tam is a Latin term that means “he who sues for the king as well as for himself.” In legal terms, it refers to a provision within the False Claims Act (FCA) and similar statutes that allows private individuals, known as “relators,” to file lawsuits on behalf of the Government when fraud has been committed against Government programs or contracts.
2. What is the False Claims Act (FCA)?
The False Claims Act is a federal law enacted to combat fraud against the Government. It imposes liability on individuals or entities that submit false claims for payment to government programs. The FCA includes a qui tam provision, which enables private individuals to sue on behalf of the Government and share in any recovered funds.
3. Who can file a qui tam lawsuit?
A qui tam lawsuit can be filed by an individual, often referred to as a “whistleblower” or “relator,” who has knowledge of fraudulent activities committed against government programs or contracts. The whistleblower may be an employee, contractor, or any other individual with relevant information about the fraud.
4. What types of fraud can be the basis of a qui tam lawsuit?
Qui tam lawsuits can be brought for various types of fraud, including healthcare fraud, Medicare or Medicaid fraud, procurement fraud, defense contractor fraud, and more. Any program that provides Government money is subject to the False Claims Act. Examples include submitting false Medicare or Medicaid claims, providing substandard goods or services to the government, or misrepresenting information to secure government contracts.
5. What is the role of the government in qui tam cases?
In qui tam cases, the Government has the option to intervene and take over the lawsuit. If the Government intervenes, it becomes the primary party in the case. If the Government chooses not to intervene, the whistleblower can continue the lawsuit on their own.
6. What are the potential rewards for whistleblowers?
Whistleblowers who successfully bring a qui tam lawsuit and recover funds for the Government can be rewarded with a percentage of the recovered amount. This reward ranges from 15% to 30% of the total recovery, depending on various factors.
7. Are qui tam cases confidential?
Qui tam cases are filed under seal, meaning they are kept confidential while the Government investigates the allegations. This allows the Government to gather evidence and decide whether to intervene without alerting the alleged wrongdoer.
8. Can whistleblowers face retaliation?
The False Claims Act includes provisions that protect whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers. If a whistleblower faces adverse employment actions as a result of their reporting or just trying to get the company to follow the law, they may have legal remedies available.
9. Can state governments have qui tam provisions?
Many states have their own False Claims Acts with qui tam provisions that apply to fraud committed against state government programs. These laws are often modeled after the federal False Claims Act and provide similar protections and incentives for whistleblowers.
10. How long do I have to file a qui tam lawsuit?
Qui tam lawsuits must be filed within a certain period, known as the statute of limitations. The timeline varies depending on the specific circumstances of each case. Consulting with an attorney experienced in qui tam cases can help determine the appropriate timeframe for filing.