Understanding Qui Tam Lawsuits & Government Intervention
If your employer or a business associate is defrauding the government, you could report the crime and sleep better at night. You also stand to collect between 15 and 30 percent of any settlement or restitution recovered by the government if the fraud is proven in a qui tam lawsuit.
Cases of Medicare fraud and government defense contractor fraud are good candidates for qui tam lawsuits, which are brought by private citizens on behalf of the federal government. Medicaid fraud is also an area of recovery in certain states. However, if you’re thinking of filing a qui tam case, you should be as informed as possible about the complex nature of qui tam litigation before you file.
The Qui Tam Provisions of The False Claims Act
Qui tam lawsuits are not typical litigation matters. This is true for many reasons.
First, they are brought under a specific provision of the United States False Claims Act, which governs their proceedings. Second, they are filed under seal, which means that there is a period of time during which the case must be kept strictly confidential by you (the relator) and the government. Often the target of the case does not know about the case for years while federal law enforcement investigates.
Most importantly, these cases are usually not brought to completion by the plaintiff (called a “relator”) who brings the lawsuit. Rather, the United States government can opt to take over the case after an extremely complex and lengthy investigation. Given the size and complexity of these cases, having the government pursue the case on its own behalf is usually extremely valuable.
Statute of Limitations for Qui Tam Actions
There are strict timeframes governing the filing of qui tam lawsuits. The False Claims Act provides that a qui tam lawsuit must be brought within either six years after the date of the claimed violation, or within three years after the government should have known or had knowledge of the violations. Consequently, qui tam offenses that occurred more than ten years ago are not valid for filing.
Facts About Qui Tam Actions
Over $15 billion has been recovered to date from whistleblower lawsuits sanctioned by the False Claims Act. You cannot be punished or retaliated against for whistleblowing – it’s against the law. However, you can reap the rewards of bringing fraudulent behavior that hurts the federal government to light. In most cases, however, it is a bad idea to try to do it alone – if you’re thinking of filing a qui tam lawsuit, you should have extremely competent and experienced counsel at your side for the duration of these complex proceedings.
For more info, see Qui Tam Frequently Asked Questions
Call Today for a Consultation
As experienced Washington qui tam attorneys, we take your rights and qui tam matters seriously. Think you have a qui tam case? Contact us today for a free, confidential phone screening of your case.