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The False Claims Act and Qui Tam
Would you think a Civil War era law has little relevance today? Think again. The False Claims Act, initially known as the "Lincoln Law," dates from the Civil War. But its provisions still apply today, and lawsuits brought under the False Claims Act by whistleblowers have resulted in over $15 billion recovered on behalf of the federal government.
The False Claims Act came into being in response to fraudulent war suppliers who sold defective or nonexistent goods to the Union Army. Initially, it offered a 50 percent reward to "relators," private citizens who filed lawsuits on the government’s behalf and acted as whistleblowers against the fraud. Since then the law has evolved and changed, and the "qui tam" litigation process has become clearer.
In qui tam lawsuits filed under the False Claims Act, relators bring a lawsuit on the behalf of the government when they accuse their employer or another entity of fraud against the United States. At present, the relator stands to collect 15 to 30 percent of all settlement or judgment monies collected, including civil penalties and up to three times the amount of the fraud. (Companies or individuals who defraud the government are subject to more damages and penalties than are available in normal lawsuits.) This large collection percentage was designed as an incentive to would-be whistleblowers. It encourages whistleblowers to come forward and expose fraud, using private instead of public resources. Though the federal government can take on the case, some qui tam cases go on without federal support.
Qui tam lawsuits under the False Claims Act are frequently filed in Medicare fraud cases, but can also be filed in instances of government contractor fraud or any situation in which an individual is aware of fraudulent activities that harm the U.S. government. The qui tam proceedings are sealed when filed, which means that the utmost confidentiality is exercised; they are not litigated in the same way as the usual civil lawsuit. They usually require lengthy investigations at the outset, and complex legal strategy decisions, particularly where the fraud may involve criminal charges.
If you are aware of fraudulent activities that impact the U.S. government and wish to "blow the whistle," don’t do so alone. Engage an experienced and compassionate qui tam attorney with a strong track record in qui tam litigation. The Seattle qui tam lawyers of Teller & Associates have qui tam experience and are committed to handling each qui tam case with expertise and sound strategy. Think you have a case? Call today for a free telephone consultation.
Washington Employment Law Attorney Disclaimer: The qui tam, qui tam litigation, qui tam lawsuit, qui tam whistleblower law, and employment law information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Any results portrayed here were dependent on the facts of a particular legal matter and results vary from case to case. Please contact an qui tam lawyer or employment law attorney at Teller & Associates for a consultation on your particular case. This firm is licensed to practice law only in the State of Washington.
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