The United States does billions of dollars of business with private citizens and companies. Some of them attempt to take advantage of the government by submitting false claims. If you know of such behavior and are considering filing a qui tam action, consult an attorney from our firm for advice on how to proceed.
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The term "qui tam" is a Latin term with an easy-to-understand meaning. In qui tam actions employees inform government officials of wrong doing on the part of their employers. If the subsequent suit is successful and the employer ends up paying a penalty the employee, not the government receives the payment or a portion of it. Though technically different, qui tam actions are similar to whistleblowing claims.
Below we have provided some general information to educate you about how the law applies in qui tam cases. To get answers about your specific case, contact us to arrange a no-charge consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Qui Tam
Q: What is a "Qui Tam" action?
A: Qui tam (from the Latin qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur, meaning "who as well for the king as for himself sues in this matter") is the traditional name for a civil lawsuit brought by a private party, arguing that the government (rather than the private party) has been harmed by the defendant's actions. If the private party wins, the monetary award is divided between the private party and the government. Under the federal False Claims Act, which prohibits fraud against the government, the private party may receive up to 30 percent of the amount recovered.
Q: Why doesn't the government bring qui tam actions?
A: Laws that allow qui tam actions are designed to encourage private parties with unique information to come forward, thereby recovering funds that the government otherwise might have lost. The government is notified of qui tam actions and has the opportunity to participate in them.
Qui Tam - An Overview
If you have information that a company or individual has defrauded the federal government, you may be able to file a lawsuit known as a qui tam action. A qui tam action helps the government recover money that has been lost due to false claims and fraud. The individual who brings the qui tam action receives a percentage of the monetary award if the defendant is found liable to the government. If you have knowledge of fraud against the government, seek legal counsel from an experienced attorney at Bononi Law Group, LLP in Los Angeles, CA.
Under the federal False Claims Act, an individual with knowledge of misconduct can file a qui tam action. A qui tam action alleges that a false claim has been submitted to the government. False claims include knowingly overcharging the government for products or services; charging for services that were never provided; selling something and not delivering it; making false reports about the quality of a product; failing to properly test products; or another scheme intended to cheat, defraud or steal from the government.
Who Can Bring a Qui Tam Action?
The federal False Claims Act allows individuals to file a qui tam lawsuit if they have knowledge of fraud or dishonesty in certain transactions with the government. The goal behind allowing qui tam actions is to uncover and rectify fraud against the government that was previously undetected. Therefore, if the information on which the lawsuit is based is public knowledge and the person who files the lawsuit is not an original source of the information, the lawsuit cannot go forward. On the other hand, those who have inside knowledge may proceed with a lawsuit. If you have information about a fraud against the government, contact a qui tam litigation attorney.
Government Involvement in a Qui Tam Action
Although qui tam actions are usually initiated by private citizens, the federal government has an important role to play. The extent of government involvement varies from case to case. The government may decide to participate in the lawsuit, but it may decide to let it proceed without becoming involved. If you have questions about the likelihood and potential impact of government involvement in your qui tam action, contact an attorney to discuss the case.
Awards in Qui Tam Actions
Qui tam actions have the potential for producing substantial monetary judgments against defendants. If a qui tam action is successful, a portion of the award will go to the person who initiated the action. A knowledgeable attorney can help you assess the strength of your qui tam case.
Protection for the Whistleblower
Most qui tam actions are brought by employees of companies that have defrauded the government. Employees are in a special position to witness and report fraud. Many employees who know of fraud, however, are reluctant to come forward for fear of retaliation. Federal law protects employees who file qui tam actions. An attorney can advise you regarding your rights as an employee filing a qui tam action.
Qui Tam Resource Links
US Department of Justice
The DOJ investigates allegations in qui tam complaints and participates in decisions on whether the government will intervene in the lawsuit.
False Claims Act Cases: Government Intervention in Qui Tam (Whistleblower) Suits
The Department of Justice describes the typical progress of a qui tam action.
US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General
The HHS OIG investigates Medicare and Medicaid fraud.
US Department of Defense Inspector General
The DOD OIG investigates military contract fraud.
The False Claims Act
FindLaw provides links to articles and resources on qui tam law.