The Qui Tam whistleblower, or False Claims Act, is a statute of law whereby a person can file a lawsuit against an organization and receive a part of the penalties for themselves. The Qui Tam whistleblower act allows persons or entities to sue the offending party on behalf of the United States government. The phrase Qui Tam is a Latin abbreviation for “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur,” which roughly translates to, “he who sues in this matter for the king as well as for himself.”
In a Qui Tam whistleblower suit, the government has the option to intervene and join in the case. If the government chooses not to do so, the private parties involved may proceed on their own. The Qui Tam whistleblower act also has one of the strongest protection provisions in the United States. There are many protective components and requirements that can harm any person that pursues a qui tam suit without proper counsel.
Filing a Qui Tam Whistleblower Lawsuit
Qui Tam whistleblower lawsuits are issued under a violation of the use of federal money. If a person knowingly presents a claim of fraudulent use of federal funds then a Qui Tam whistleblower lawsuit may be filed. The person must have records or statements of fraudulent use for a claim to be paid by the government. A Qui Tam whistleblower lawsuit may also be filed for conspiracy of such acts.
Any person with evidence of an attempt to avoid, conceal or decrease obligations to transmit property or money to the government may be filed. However, a Qui Tam whistleblower claim cannot be made if the government or other party has already filed a Qui Tam whistleblower claim based on the same evidence.
Qui Tam Whistleblower Suit Process
A Qui Tam whistleblower action must be filed confidentially under seal in a federal district court. This action must be in accordance with all Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The parties filing suit must provide a copy of the complaint, a written statement of disclosure of all material evidence and information of the plaintiff. These must be submitted to the US Attorney General and US Attorney of their district.
The Qui Tam whistleblower suit must be filed with a video record and under seal. Complaints and contents are kept confidential until the seal has been lifted. The complaint will not be served to the defendant if the plaintiff has violated any provisions of the government seal. Any such violation is grounds for dismissal of the case.
Qui Tam Whistleblower Penalties
Violators of the qui tam whistleblower act are liable to pay three times the amount the government was defrauded with additional civil penalties between $5,000 and $10,000 for every wrongful claim. A plaintiff of a Qui Tam whistleblower lawsuit is eligible to receive between 15 and 30 percent of the recovery total from the case if there is a favorable judgment and settlement.
Only those who have filed for a Qui Tam whistleblower lawsuit are eligible to recover monetary value from the action. Simply informing the government of the fraud violation will not be enough. Money is only rewarded after the government has recovered money from the defendant from the filed Qui Tam whistleblower suit.
Qui Tam Whistleblower Limitations
The primary limitations of a Qui Tam whistleblower lawsuit are time constraints. The Qui Tam whistleblower lawsuit must be filed within these time constraints or else the case is not eligible for prosecution. As long as the case meets these requirements, the Qui Tam whistleblower lawsuit can proceed.
Qui Tam whistleblower must be filed:
- Within six years after the date of the violation
- Within three years since the government has gained or should have gained knowledge of the violation
- Never ten years after the violation is committed.
Qui Tam Whistleblower Protections
Under section 3730(h) of the False Claims Act, if an employee is discharged, harassed, demoted or discriminated by result of lawful action, the employee is entitled to any relief necessary for making the employee whole. Some of these protections include reinstatement, double pay back, and compensation for special damages from litigation fees and attorneys’ fees.
“False Claims Act/Qui Tam FAQ.” National Whistleblowers Center. N.p.. Web. 12 Sep 2013. <http://www.whistleblowers.org/index.php?Itemid=64&id=3>.
“FALSE CLAIMS ACT CASES: GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION IN QUI TAM (WHISTLEBLOWER) SUITS.” United States Department of Justice. N.p.. Web. 12 Sep 2013. <http://www.justice.gov/usao/pae/Civil_Division/InternetWhistleblower update.pdf>.