One 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.