Qui Tam Statute of the False Claims Act
Washington, DC Whistleblower Attorney
The False Claims Act (31 U.S.C § 3729 – 3733), also known as the “Lincoln Law,” the “Informer’s Act,” or the “Qui Tam Statute,” is a much older federal law than most people realize. Congress first passed the False Claims Act during the Civil War in 1863 in an attempt to stop dishonest contractors from selling the Union Army faulty supplies and provisions.
The most significant aspect of the False Claims Act is its “qui tam” provision, which allows United States citizens to sue on behalf of the government. If a qui tam lawsuit is successful, the citizen who initiated it – called the “relator” or “whistleblower” – is entitled to receive a percentage of the recovered taxpayer funds. By offering these incentives andcash awards, the government’s whistleblower program has been able to recover billions of taxpayer dollars to date.
Any person or entity that avoids or improperly receives payment to the government can be held liable in a qui tam lawsuit. The False Claims Act is designed to encourage private parties with unique information about fraud to disclose it, aiding the government in identifying and punishing fraudulent actions that otherwise go unnoticed. Once awhistleblower action has been brought forward, the government has the opportunity to participate in the action.
Becoming a Whistleblower
If you have knowledge of fraud being committed to steal taxpayer funds, you can file a qui tam action and become a relator / whistleblower. Most whistleblowers report fraud committed by their employer, since this is the type of fraud they are knowledgeable about; however, anyone with knowledge of fraud committed against the government can become a whistleblower. In the past, a fraudulent party’s competitors, patients, and even employees’ relatives have all filed successful qui tam claims.
The False Claims Act affords significant protection to whistleblowers who otherwise might be vulnerable to retaliation from the wrongdoer, such as an employer. When you initiate a qui tam action, your identity will be under seal (confidential) while the government is investigating your claim. If the fraudulent party takes any action to terminate, demote, discriminate, or harass you based on your status as a whistleblower, you can sue them for damages; however, in order to sue for retaliation, you need to be able to prove that your employer was aware of your involvement in a qui tam action at the time of the retaliation.
Recent Amendments to the False Claims Act
In 2011, federal regulators passed a new set of rules making it easier, and possibly more lucrative, for whistleblowers to report suspicions of fraud. Under these new provisions, if an individual provides the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with information that leads to a recovery of a million dollars or more, that individual could be paid up to 30% of the monetary sanctions. Tips that are submitted anonymously through an attorney will still be eligible for an award.
If you are aware of a fraudulent payment claim that has been made by your employer or another party, pleasecontact a Washington, DC whistleblower attorney from Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. today for a free case evaluation. We can help you learn more about qui tam lawsuits and help investigate without compromising the case or your own legal status.