When government fraud occurs in the United States, the federal government and state governments often require public assistance and cooperation to learn of potential fraud and to prosecute it. In those situations, a writ from antiquity, called Qui Tam, which has made its why into common law can be invoked via the False Claims Act (FCA).
Qui Tam cases rely on a whistleblower, called a relator, who prosecutes the case in exchange for a reward which is typically part or all of a settlement. Medicare and medicaid fraud is one common area of government where the Qui Tam writ applies. If you know someone who is exploiting government healthcare programs, government defense contracting, or other government benefits, a Qui Tam action may be just and necessary.
What Is Qui Tam?
Qui Tam is a set of Latin words that make up part of a longer phrase that has stood the test of time as a legal standard, or writ. The Latin phrase, “Qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur,” which loosely means one who brings forward a case on behalf of the king and himself, is the common law basis with which Qui Tam lawsuits exist.
In Latin, it is pronounced Kee-Tam (sounds like ‘lamb’). But today in United States courts, you might hear either the Latin pronunciation or a more Americanized sounding one, Kwee-Tam or Kwee-Tom. Any of these are correct and refer to the process by which a relator brings forward a fraud case on behalf of the federal government, typically.
In a Qui Tam lawsuit in the U.S., a relator is a whistleblower who agrees to prosecute the defendant in a fraud case in exchange for some or all of the settlement.
Who Can Become A Qui Tam Whistleblower?
It’s pretty simple. If you know about a case of a person or company defrauding the U.S. government, you can become a Qui Tam whistleblower. The Federal False Claims Act, sometimes called the Lincoln Law due to its emergence during the Civil War as a way to prevent a defense contractor from defrauding the Union government, ensures private citizens can enact the Qui Tam writ, via Qui Tam provisions designed to protect taxpayers from who fund government programs from having their hard-earned money go to fraudulent causes, like individuals or businesses looking for kickbacks.
Qui Tam relators prosecute different types of fraud, provided they have to do with government programs. This could be government subsidized healthcare fraud, like medicare or medicaid, social security fraud, disability fraud, unemployment fraud, defense contracting, or other types of fraud that are perpetrated by individuals receiving benefits. That said, relators may also work on behalf of the United States to prosecute businesses that benefit from government bailouts and then misuse the funds, or accept them even though they don’t have sufficient need. It does not apply to matters of IRS tax fraud.
Here’s a full list of what’s covered under the FCA:
- Overcharging the government for products or services
- Seeking a government contract using fraud to secure it,
- Filing a false application for a government loan,
- Filing a fraudulent application for the granting of state funds,
- Receiving payment obligations for products and services that do not meet contract requirements or requirements of regulating agencies,
- Receiving payment for products and services below quality contracted,
- Certifying in district court or federal court that a government contract was fulfilled to resolution when it has not been completed to contract scope,
- Attempting to get out of paying the government money owed.
Rooting out these individuals and businesses is important to everyone in the country, from individual taxpayers to members of congress. That’s why a whistleblower reward is offered in Qui Tam cases to ensure individuals do their duty to other private citizens, ensuring fraudulent government claims on benefits don’t go without attention from the Department of Justice.
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Qui Tam Whistleblower Protection
In a Qui Tam lawsuit, whistleblowers are entitled to protection under Lincoln’s Law, the statute enacted by congress in 1863 to prevent contractors from price gouging union troops who needed to work with defense contractors on procurement of weapons during the Civil War. It’s been amended three times since to include federal rules around whistleblower law and fraudulent claims in a Qui Tam complaint.
The law was originally written to encourage people to come forward with complaints in order to enforce federal law against defrauding the government. The largest restructuring of the law came in 2002, when congress enacted changes to ensure the integrity of a Qui Tam suit by making it more favorable for whistleblower insiders and not just any person who wants to capitalize on the opportunity.
Whistleblower attorneys can help relators do their duty to the American people regardless if they have whistleblower insider status, with the disclaimer that they should be acting with integrity. That’s why a free consultation with Florin|Roebig can help you determine if you are eligible to prosecute a whistleblower case and receive the full benefit of Qui Tam laws.
Qui Tam Lawyer: Protection Against Qui Tam Retaliation
When you hire a law firm, your rights are better protected against things like retaliation, such as in cases of report Paycheck Protection Program fraud. For employees who are hoping for reinstatement of their role once the case is complete, having a whistleblower attorney is a necessary step to making sure your rights are protected and you can return to work without sacrificing a relationship with your employer because you established a fraud case against someone in the company. Not only is reinstatement an option, but you may be entitled to backpay if you were removed from your job for being a whistleblower for any period of time. A Qui Tam lawyer works for you to ensure your needs are met.
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The Qui Tam Process: When to File
When considering filing a whistleblower case, some concerns are attorneys fees and other litigation costs. That’s why it’s absolutely important to know when to file and to partner with the best whistleblower lawyer that can help you recover special damages in the form of a reward.
Whether you’re in New York or Florida, if you may have a Qui Tam case on your hands it’s important to have a case review done by a whistleblower attorney who has tried a False Claims Act Case and understands how the law works.
With guidance from an attorney, there will be no question as to when you should file your case. Call Florin|Roebig today to discuss if you have a Qui Tam lawsuit.