What is a Qui Tam Lawsuit?
A qui tam lawsuit is a specific type of whistleblower lawsuit. A qui tam lawsuit is brought by an employee whistleblower who is aware of false claims for the payment of government funds by their employer under the federal False Claims Act or an analogous state statute. Whistleblowers are compensated significantly for informing the government of fraud being perpetrated by employers at the government’s expense.
If you have knowledge that your employer is committing fraud against the government, you need an experienced employment lawyer to help you file a qui tam lawsuit. At Console Mattiacci Law, our employment attorneys are experienced in whistleblower lawsuits and can help you navigate the legal process of a qui tam lawsuit.
Common Causes of Qui Tam Actions
Qui tam lawsuits may be filed for a number of reasons under the federal False Claims Act or similar state statute. It is important to note that qui tam lawsuits may only be filed for fraud being committed by an employer against the government, not when one business is taking advantage of another business. Common causes of qui tam lawsuits include the following:
- Double billing or overcharging
- Billing for unfinished work
- Defense contractor fraud
- Violations in manufacturing specifications
- Unauthorized purchases of government property
- Medicare fraud
- Securities fraud
- Bid rigging
- Charging for unneeded services or products
- Non-compliance with government contracts
- Delivering non-compliant or low quality products
Given the rapidly aging population in the United States, there has been a sharp increase in the number of Medicare and Medicaid qui tam lawsuits filed against healthcare companies and other medically-based companies that do business with the federal government. If you are considering a qui tam lawsuit against a healthcare company, you need to hire an employment attorney that has specific experience in this type of case.
How to File a Qui Tam Lawsuit
If filing under the federal False Claims Act, any private citizen may file a whistleblower lawsuit on behalf of the United States against an individual or business that is defrauding the government to recover damages. This type of lawsuit is unique because it is filed under seal for at least sixty days, which means that the filing of the lawsuit is kept secret from everyone, including the person or business accused, while the Justice Department investigates the claim. The private citizen bringing the lawsuit on behalf of the United States is known as the “relator.”
The government will decide after its initial investigation whether it wishes to intervene in the case, or whether the whistleblower’s attorneys will continue with the representation of the case. If necessary, the courts can extend the seal on the case until the government has finished with its investigation. Once the seal is lifted, the individual or entity accused of fraud is informed of the claims and confronted with the evidence against them. The person or business accused can either enter into negotiations for settlement or fight the claims and take the case to court.
The most important thing to do when filing a qui tam lawsuit is to hire an experienced employment law attorney that has experience with whistleblower lawsuits. It is also unlawful to retaliate against an employee for reporting the fraud. If such retaliation occurs, an independent retaliation claim may be brought against the employer.
Compensation for Qui Tam Lawsuits
If an employee files a qui tam lawsuit against their employer under the False Claims Act and the government is successful in their case against the employer, the government is allowed to recover up to three times its damages plus civil penalties against the employer who committed fraud. As the whistleblower, the employee is typically entitled to fifteen to thirty percent of the government’s recovery as a reward for initiating the lawsuit. If the Justice Department takes over the case, the reward is typically between fifteen and twenty-five percent. If the whistleblower’s own attorneys handle the case, the reward is typically between twenty and thirty percent of the overall damages. There is no ceiling on the reward for a qui tam lawsuit, so depending on the extent of the fraud, a whistleblower may be rewarded with millions of dollars in compensation.
Our Office Can Help
If you are aware of fraud being perpetrated against the government and wish to file a qui tam lawsuit, our experienced employment attorneys may be able to help. At Console Mattiacci Law, our lawyers have helped clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. Call the office at 215-545-7676 or contact us today to speak with an attorney about your potential whistleblower case.