Qui Tam Provisions and the False Claims Act
The False Claims Act (“FCA”) prohibits the submission of false claims or statements to the government. A person or entity that violates the FCA is liable for two types of damages: (1) trebled (triple) of the Government’s actual damages and (2) a fine or fines of $11,181 to $22,363 per violation.
Whistleblowers (referred to as relators) can initiate False Claims Act qui tam lawsuits by filing a sealed complaint in court with the assistance of an attorney. Put differently, whistleblowers pursue claims on behalf of the Government.
The qui tam provisions of the FCA allow individuals and their qui tam lawyers to bring a claim on behalf of the government against entities that submit false claims to the government. If the government recovers, whistleblowers typically receive between 15% and 30% of the total recovery.
History of the False Claims Act
The False Claims Act was passed on March 2, 1863, during the administration of President Abraham Lincoln. The False Claims Act, also known as “Lincoln’s Law,” was enacted to deter fraud against the government by suppliers to the Union Army during the Civil War.
The FCA contains qui tam whistleblower provisions. “Qui tam” derives from the Latin phrase 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.” This means that both the government and private citizens (known as whistleblowers or relators) can sue for violations of the False Claims Act.
The FCA remained unchanged until 1943, when Congress altered the qui tam provisions, including a cut in the whistleblowers potential award. After this revision, the False Claims Act was rarely used.
In the mid-1980s, Congress again amended the FCA. The amended FCA provided that whistleblowers who brought successful qui tam lawsuits were entitled to recover 15-30% of the government’s recovery. The False Claims Act was again amended in 2009.
Prior to the 1986 amendments, the majority of cases brought under the FCA involved defense contracting fraud. Currently, the majority of qui tam lawsuits brought under the FCA are healthcare fraud cases related to Medicare and Medicaid fraud.
The FCA is now the federal government’s primary tool against government fraud. In 2016 and 2017, the federal government recovered nearly $8.5 billion through False Claims Act litigation, and most of this money came from qui tam lawsuits filed by whistleblowers.
What is a Qui Tam Action?
Whistleblower/qui tam cases are a type of lawsuit whistleblowers bring under the False Claims Act. They are a powerful way for qui tam whistleblowers to help the government stop many types of fraud and recover money that has been stolen from the U.S. Treasury and taxpayers.
The FCA rewards whistleblowers whose False Claims Act qui tam actions recover government funds and provides job protection to qui tam whistleblowers because of the professional and personal risks they take in filing the lawsuit.
Because of these risks, it’s important to know whether you have a good qui tam whistleblower case before taking action. If you are considering reporting fraud against the government, make sure you meet the following criteria:
- You have personal or first-hand knowledge of the wrongdoing.
- You have documents that confirm the illegal activities.
- There is a significant amount of money at stake.
- The qui tam claim falls within the applicable statute of limitations.
If your potential False Claims Act qui tam action covers all of these bases, it’s time to hire a qui tam lawyer. The whistleblower system is complicated, so you want to make sure you hire someone with experience who will help you navigate.
Types of Qui Tam Lawsuits
- Healthcare, Pharmaceutical, & Medical Device Fraud
- Medicare and Medicaid Fraud
- IRS Tax Fraud
- Defense Contractor Fraud
- Securities and Commodities Fraud
- Other Fraud Types
As the chart above shows, the majority of False Claims Act qui tam cases filed involve healthcare fraud; in other words, the primary focus on qui tam litigation has been Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Additionally, Department of Defense, including defense contracting fraud against the government, make up 19% of the qui tam lawsuits filed. “Other” qui tam cases may involve financial fraud and mortgage fraud, which rose in correlation with the economic downturn starting in 2008.
Importance of Government Intervention in Qui Tam Actions
The government intervenes in approximately 20% of cases brought by False Claims Act qui tam attorneys. From 1987 to 2010, approximately 95% of the qui tam lawsuits in which the government intervened were settled or received a favorable judgment.
Of these successful cases, whistleblowers are compensated around 10 percent to 30 percent of the amount the government recovered. The percentage the whistleblower receives is higher if the government does not intervene; however, the overall recovery is usually higher when the government intervenes.
Berger Montague’s Qui Tam Lawyers
The attorneys in Berger Montague’s Whistleblowers, Qui Tam & False Claims Act practice group have assisted our clients in recovering more than $3 billion for federal and state taxpayers. Whistleblower clients represented by Berger Montague in federal and state courts have been awarded over $500 million.
Berger Montague understands that the focus of our work starts and ends with the whistleblower. We begin the process by taking the time to get to know our potential clients. First, we explain to each potential client the advantages and disadvantages of being a whistleblower. We explain the process of filing a qui tam complaint and ensure they have a basic understanding of the qui tam whistleblower provisions and whistleblowers laws.
If the potential client is prepared to move along, we start a detailed investigation of the alleged fraud on the government, including, but not limited to: reviewing all relevant documentation, conducting multiple interviews, and consulting with various specialists, if need be.
A vital step to success in False Claims Act qui tam cases is to receive the government’s interest. State and federal prosecutors listen to hundreds of whistleblower complaints every year. If a whistleblower’s qui tam lawsuit has been thoroughly investigated and is not presented to the government in a favorable way, a case with substantial promise may not receive the attention it deserves from the government.
After the initial investigation, our qui tam attorneys prepare and file a detailed complaint, positioned to receive the federal and state government’s interest in moving on with the qui tam lawsuit.
Contact Us to Learn More
Do you need a Whistleblower Lawyer or want to know more information about Qui Tam Law and your rights under the False Claims Act?
There are three easy ways to contact our firm for a free, confidential evaluation with one of our whistleblower attorneys:
Your submission will be reviewed by a Berger Montague False Claims Act qui tam attorney and remain confidential.