In a qui tam action, a private individual who has knowledge that a business is defrauding the government “blows the whistle” on the fraudulent or illegal activity. The whistleblower, who is called a relator, brings a qui tam action on the federal government’s behalf. However, the government is considered the real plaintiff in the case. If the government is successful in its lawsuit, the relator will be awarded a share of the settlement or award.
Qui tam actions are permitted by the False Claims Act which is set forth in 31 U.S.C. Sections 3729 through 3733. By law, the government has the right to intervene and join the qui tam action. If the government opts to join in the case it usually becomes much stronger and is more likely to prevail. However, even if the government declines, the relator may proceed to litigate the action on their own.
The False Claims Act Statute § 3729 sets forth wrongful conduct that creates liability. In very general terms, A business may be held liable for defrauding the government if they:
Notably, simply submitting a false claim to the government will not create liability under the False Claims Act on behalf of a corporation. Instead, the business must have done so with “knowledge” of the falsity. This can be actual knowledge, deliberate ignorance or reckless disregard of the truth, or falsity of the information.
One of the primary benefits of becoming a whistleblower is the gratification and respect you will receive for helping the government recover money fraudulently taken from tax paying citizens. In addition to doing the right thing, whistleblowers are offered protection from recourse by their employer and can be entitled to a share of any settlement or award. This monetary incentive is offered to encourage people to take the risks involved in reporting fraud. Relators typically receive somewhere between 15% to 30% of a settlement or award. This percentage will depend on factors such as whether the government intervened in the case and the extent of the relator’s contribution toward prosecuting the action.
The Wieand Law Firm handles qui tam, whistleblower, and False Claims Act cases on a contingent fee basis. This means that whistleblowers do not ever pay attorneys’ fees or court costs unless you recover compensation through a settlement or award. For further information or to schedule a confidential discussion about a potential qui tam case call (215) 666-7777 or fill out a description of your claim in the contact form.
Disclosure: This website and is intended for information purposes only. This summary of qui tam/whistleblower actions does not create an attorney-client relationship nor does it constitute legal advice. You should consult with an attorney if you have questions regarding a qui tam lawsuit.