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Breaking Down the Qui Tam Lawsuit Definition So Anyone Can Understand It

Qui Tam Lawsuit Definition

Qui Tam Lawsuit DefinitionAre you searching for information to learn more about a qui tam lawsuit? It’s a rather complicated legal topic, but we will do our best to break it down for you in layman’s terms. Keep reading for the details you need to know if you are considering or involved in a qui tam lawsuit.

Under the False Claims Act, the qui tam law allows a private party to bring a claim against another party for false billing to the federal government or for withholding information resulting in a higher cost to the federal government.

Qui Tam Lawsuit: When to Litigate

The federal government always retains the right to take on a false claims case and pursue it first. However, where the Department of Justice decides that a case is not a priority to pursue, then the reporting party can bring a lawsuit at his cost and charge the false claim defendant in federal civil court.

If the reporting party wins the case, he would then be eligible to between 15 and 25 percent of the total recoveries due to the federal government. While this may sound like a small amount, it’s frequently the case that the erroneous cost amount covers multiple years and hundreds of billings.

Qui Tam Is Not Necessarily Whistleblower Protection

The qui tam provision of the False Claims Act is frequently confused with being a whistleblower protection clause, but they are not the same. Whistleblower protections help ensure a reporting party is not unfairly retaliated against in their career or life from reporting. The qui tam provision, however, provides whistleblowers with the ability to carry out a lawsuit penalizing a wrongdoing defendant. The protection law is related, but separate.

The basis of the qui tam lawsuit option started as far back as 1899 under an obscure law known as the House Refuse Act. However, under British common law, the concept was in play up to four centuries earlier. The early U.S. law was one of the first allowing lawsuits by private parties to enforce the provisions of the related federal law.

Qui Tam Lawsuit Options and Benefits

The benefit of the Qui Tam option is twofold. First, it allows the Department of Justice civil branch to prioritize its cases without completely missing the opportunity to pursue a matter of concern. Often a report may seem to be serious, but the evidence is insufficient for the federal government to pursue.

Another possibility is that the Department of Justice branch is overwhelmed and focused on much bigger cases already, being unable to spare resources for the latest report. The Qui Tam option allows the reporting party to pursue the matter in court to the benefit of the federal government. This keeps the issue alive and ensures that a wrongdoing party still ends up being held responsible. It also works as an active deterrent to intentional financial wrongdoing.

From the defending company perspective, the Qui Tam option is a dual exposure for liability. Again, either the Department of Justice or the reporting party can sue the company. Both options can result in significant damages if wrongdoing is proven and confirmed in court. And similar to other false claims charges, how a company responds when incorrect actions or wrongdoing are identified makes a big difference in the outcomes legally.

The qui tam lawsuit is a serious step and should be handled with sensitivity. To better understand how to proceed in a quit tam lawsuit, contact our team at Bothwell Law Group.

Are the Rewards for a Qui Tam Whistleblower Worth the Risks?

Qui Tam Whistleblower

Qui Tam WhistleblowerIf you’re thinking of becoming a qui tam whistleblower, you’re probably wondering about the ramifications of your choice. It’s natural to be curious about all the impacts when making a life-altering decision, and there’s certainly plenty of literature out there detailing the potential pitfalls. However, there’s also significant upside.

To help you along, we’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of pros and cons to becoming a whistleblower. While we certainly can’t tell you whether to proceed (or not), we can at least offer you more information for your consideration. Take a look, think it through carefully, and then you can decide how best to proceed.

Pros to Becoming a Qui Tam Whistleblower

  1. Whistleblowers Rewarded with Lots of Money (Potentially)

This is usually one of the number one reasons people decide to become a whistleblower. The rewards for doing so can be staggering; as much as 30% of the dollars recovered. This has been a staple of the False Claims Act since inception, with the prevailing thought at the time being you must use a scoundrel to catch a scoundrel, and all scoundrels are motivated primarily by money.

Whether or not you’ve been complicit in the fraud, you may still be entitled to a healthy sum of money. In fact, the current record award to an individual currently stands at over $100 million. However, the size of your reward will ultimately depend on the amount of money reclaimed.

  1. If You Speak Up, You’ll Have a Clear Conscience

There’s quite a lot to be said for being able to have peace of mind and an undisturbed night’s sleep. Many people feel they have a moral obligation to report fraud once they have uncovered it. Not doing so leaves them with a heavy psychological weight that can be detrimental to health and wellbeing over time.

  1. Protect the Innocent by Filing a False Claims Suit

Many (though not all) cases involve taking advantage of individuals without their knowledge or consent. Whether it’s issuance of substandard materials, or prescribing an aggressive but unneeded course of treatment, there are people out there who are at the mercy of the system. And sometimes the only person willing and able to protect them is you.

Cons of Becoming a Qui Tam Whistleblower

  1. If You Blow the Whistle, Your Life Will Change Forever

Whether you like it or not, eventually it will come out that you played a role in this lawsuit. This can mean all kinds of things for you on a personal level. Unwanted media attention. Alienation by former friends and co-workers. Industry blacklisting. These are all possible pitfalls associated with filing suit. You need to be sure the risk is worth the reward.

  1. You Can Still Lose as a Whistleblower

Contrary to what some people might tell you, there is no guarantee when it comes to filing a qui tam lawsuit. If your case isn’t rock-solid, the court may still find the company’s favor. Or, the court might determine the scope of your case to be quite small, meaning your reward could be 30% of almost nothing.

Still Wondering Whether to File a Qui Tam Suit?

Call 770-643-1606 to learn more about the pros and cons that come with being a qui tam whistleblower by contacting Bothwell Law Group online.

What Is the False Claims Act and When Did It Take Effect?

What Is the False Claims Act

What Is the False Claims ActIf you’ve been wondering, “ What is the False Claims Act, and why do I care? ” then this post is for you! Originally called the “Lincoln Law,” it was originally enacted in 1863, as a result of shady dealings the government had with suppliers during the Civil War.

At its most basic level, it codifies a process for investigating fraud in all kinds of government claims and contracts, giving Uncle Sam the teeth needed to get money back when it’s due. It establishes clear liability for any person or entity who receives funds from, or avoids payments to, the federal government on a fraudulent basis. And it affords individuals incentives, and protection, in exchange for a detailed reporting of fraud against the government. (The one notable exception to this is tax fraud; it’s governed by a different set of laws and statutes).

Qui Tam Provision

One of the most important features, the qui tam provision, permits private citizens to sue individuals and businesses on behalf of the U.S. Government. If the suit brings damages or compensation, the petitioner is paid a percentage of the recovered funds. This was due in large part to Senator Jacob M. Howard, who believed anyone who had knowledge of unethical activities were likely engaged in them already. His qui tam compensation plan was aimed at “setting a rogue to catch a rogue.”

It also outlines strict provisions for protecting the whistleblower. Lawsuits are filed in secret, without the suspect party being notified. The filer also is shielded from retaliation by the defendant. They cannot be harassed, lose their job, or otherwise be discriminated against as a result of filing suit. Any form of retaliation against the plaintiff will result in an award of damages for hardship and suffering, as well as any owed back pay, including interest.

False Claims Act: Billions in Recovered Dollars

Throughout the decades, the FCA has been revised on a number of occasions. While originally designed and used against defense contractors, the rise of healthcare fraud in mid-90’s led to a shift in focus. However, in 2015, the Justice Department recovered over $3.5 billion in false claims, with $1.1 billion of that number still coming from false claims made by federal defense contractors.

A majority of the recoveries were made under qui tam lawsuits, which entitled the filers to anywhere from 15% to 30% of the recovered monies. Whistleblower awards totaled $597 million this year; a little over 17% of total money recovered.

Think You Have a Case Covered by the False Claims Act and Qui Tam?

The first thing you need is an experienced lawyer, and Bothwell Law group can help. Find out what you need to know by calling 770.643.1606, and we’ll explain what the False Claim Act is, and help determine if it applies to you.

What does Qui Tam Mean?

what does qui tam mean

what does qui tam meanOne of the questions that Bothwell Law Group receives on a regular basis is “What does Qui Tam mean?” The answer is actually very simple. Qui Tam is a lawsuit against a person or company believed to have violated the law while under a contract with the government, or in violation of a government regulation. A qui tam lawsuit is brought forth by a private citizen. However, sometimes the federal government may intervene and become party to the suit.

Have you ever asked yourself, “What does Qui Tam mean?”

The term qui tam is Latin for “who as well.” As such, a qui tam lawsuit is brought “for the government as well as the plaintiff.” This means, the person who is bringing forth the lawsuit will be entitled to part of the recovery of the penalty.

Qui Tam lawsuits do not involve technical errors or technical violations. They deal with fraudulent and / or criminal acts against the government.

Someone who is filing a qui tam lawsuit is informally known as a “whistleblower.” Due to the potential loss of jobs whistleblowers face, the False Claims Act has protections in place to make sure whistleblowers have job protection for the personal and professional risks they are taking in order to expose and put a stop to fraud against the government.

Now that we’ve answered the question, “What does Qui Tam mean?”, what happens when a qui tam lawsuit is filed?

When a qui tam lawsuit is filed, it is “under seal.” This means it is kept a secret from everyone except the government. This is done to give the Justice Department time to investigate the allegations.

The government, along with the whistleblower’s attorney will begin investigating the case. The government decides to intervene in only a small percentage of qui tam cases. However, the chances of successfully pursuing a qui tam case are increased if the government does decide to join your case.

In a qui tam lawsuit, the government does have the right to request a partial lift of the seal to discuss allegations and a possible settlement with the individual or the entity accused of the fraud.

A majority of qui tam cases are resolved through settlements, meaning they don’t go to a court trial.

A qui tam lawsuit can result in anywhere between 15 to 30 percent of the recovery going to the whistleblower. If the government does not intervene in the case, the whistleblower gets a reward of 25 to 30 percent. If the government does decide to intervene in the qui tam case, the reward going to the whistleblower is lowered to 15 to 25 percent of the recovery.

Multi-million dollar rewards have been given to whistleblowers in recent years. With an experienced whistle-blower attorney, you could be on your way to successfully putting a stop to some of the fraud happening against the government.

The next time you hear someone ask, “What does Qui Tam mean?”, direct them to Bothwell Law Group for a free consultation to see if we can help.