Qui tam (pronounced “kee tam” or “kwee tom”) is an abbreviation of a Latin phrase meaning “who as well for the king as for himself sues in this matter.” Qui tam cases are different from other types of lawsuits, such as those involving personal injuries, because the person bringing the lawsuit is not the one who has been harmed.
In a qui tam lawsuit, a relator with knowledge of fraudulent activity is filing the case on behalf of the government, which will decide whether to join the case after conducting its own investigation.
The qui tam provision of the False Claims Act was enacted specifically to encourage private citizens to come forward with information about entities defrauding federal programs to allow the government a chance to recover stolen funds.
In many cases, the government would not have been aware of the fraudulent activity had the relator not come forward; therefore, the relator is entitled to receive a financial reward for his or her service to the country if the litigation is successful.
What is the ‘False Claims Act’ and what types of activities are covered?
The False Claims Act is a federal law that imposes liability on individuals and companies who defraud the government. This law contains a “qui tam” provision that allows individuals who have knowledge that a corporation or organization is defrauding the government to “blow the whistle” on the illegal activity. The person who files a qui tam case is often referred to as the “relator” or “whistleblower.”
Under the False Claims Act, a company, organization, or individual can be held liable for most types of fraud involving a federally funded contract or program, with a few exceptions.
A broad range of scenarios can give rise to qui tam claims. Some examples include:
- Improper Medicare/Medicaid billing, including overbilling and billing for services or procedures that were not provided
- Overcharging for goods or services provided under government contracts
- Knowingly selling the government defective or dangerous products
- Requesting payment for goods and services that were not provided
- Marketing drugs for non-FDA approved uses
- A grant recipient charging the government for costs that are not grant related
When and how should a whistleblower report fraud?
Anyone, at any time, can report suspected wrongdoing. But the decision to blow the whistle could affect your personal and professional life and should be made carefully—and with advice from an attorney.
In terms of reporting the fraud, the process depends on the type of fraud and the whistleblower laws involved. In general, the whistleblower process is as follows:
- Obtaining evidence
- Submitting the evidence/filing a claim
- Government investigation
- Case settlement or judgment
Our lawyers can tell you more about how to file a claim and what to expect as a whistleblower during a confidential case review.
To speak with an experienced whistleblower attorney, please contact us today. Following an initial consultation, our attorneys can help you determine whether a whistleblower lawsuit is appropriate and will work with you to protect your confidentiality.