Qui Tam Lawsuits Filed Against Government Contractors: Understanding the Process and Defending Against Allegations
The Federal False Claims Act (FCA) is in place to avoid and deter fraud against the United States Government. When employees, or other protected third parties (qui tam relator), bring a lawsuit (qui tam lawsuit) in federal court, if the relator prevails, he or she can recover a percentage of the damages from the government.
Define Qui Tam?
“Qui tam” is defined as “in the name of the king” and is the shortened term for the Latin phrase “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur.” This phrase can be translated to mean “he who sues in this matter does so on behalf of the king as well as himself. Qui Tam litigation involving federal government contracts involves either current or previous employees, and other contractors who may have specific knowledge about alleged violations of specific rules that apply to government contracting.
The False Claims Act protects whistleblowers or relators from any retaliation. The federal government does not intervene in every False Claims Act lawsuit. If a relator files a case, there must be substantial and credible evidence and documentation to support the qui tam whistleblower case and show evidence of fraud. If not, the government may decide not to intervene. Some of the most common allegations of fraud against the federal government under the FCA include healthcare fraud and government contract fraud.
What is a Qui Tam Lawsuit?
Qui tam lawsuits, filed under the False Claims Act (FCA), allow private individuals, known as relators, to bring legal action on behalf of the government against contractors engaged in fraudulent activities. In this article, we will explore how qui tam lawsuits work, the defense strategies government contractors may employ, and the importance of consulting a qui tam defense lawyer or false claims act defense attorney for effective representation.
Government contracting qui tam lawsuits provide an avenue for a whistleblower to bring a lawsuit under the False Claims Act in the name of the United States. A qui tam action also provides rewards to whistleblowers if the case is successful and when the government actually recovers money as a result of fraud. Examples of the types of fraud in qui tam lawsuits include Medicare and Medicaid fraud, government contracting fraud, and more.
The Process of Qui Tam Lawsuits
Qui tam lawsuits begin with a relator, typically an employee or insider with knowledge of fraudulent activities, filing a complaint under seal in federal court. The relator provides evidence of the alleged false claims and their association with the contractor. The government then reviews the complaint and decides whether to intervene, meaning it actively participates in the lawsuit. If the government declines intervention, the relator may proceed with the lawsuit independently. See 6 Things Contractors Should Be Aware of in False Claims Qui Tam Lawsuits.
Defending Against Qui Tam Lawsuits
Government contractors facing qui tam lawsuits must mount a strong defense to protect their interests. Engaging an experienced qui tam defense lawyer or false claims act defense attorney is crucial to navigate the complex legal landscape. Below are examples of legal defenses that contractors may employ:
1. Lack of Evidence: Contractors may challenge the relator’s evidence, attempting to show that it is insufficient or lacks credibility. This can involve questioning the reliability of witnesses or the validity of the information presented.
2. Lack of Knowledge: Contractors may argue that they were unaware of any fraudulent activities taking place within their organization. Establishing a lack of knowledge can be a valid defense if there is no evidence of intentional wrongdoing or reckless disregard for the truth.
3. Government’s Knowledge: Contractors may assert that the government was already aware of the alleged false claims or had previously overlooked them. This defense aims to show that the contractor’s actions were not deliberately deceptive.
4. First-to-File Bar: Contractors may argue that the qui tam lawsuit should be dismissed because a similar lawsuit involving the same allegations was previously filed by another relator. The False Claims Act’s “first-to-file” bar prohibits subsequent lawsuits based on the same allegations.
Violations of the false claims statute: If contractors are found liable Under the False Claims Act for violation of SBA regulations, the Buy American Act, or some other underlying violation, penalties can include paying up to three times the government’s losses plus civil penalties of between $5,500 and $11,000 for each false claim submitted.
Consulting a Qui Tam Defense Lawyer or False Claims Act Defense Attorney
Given the complex nature of qui tam lawsuits and the potential legal and financial consequences, government contractors should seek the guidance of experienced qui tam defense lawyers or false claims act defense attorneys. These legal professionals possess the expertise to assess the merits of the case, develop a robust defense strategy, and protect the contractor’s rights throughout the legal proceedings. See information about Hiring False Claim and Procurement Fraud Lawyers.
Qui tam lawsuits filed against government contractors under the False Claims Act pose significant challenges. Contractors must navigate the legal process effectively and mount a strong defense against the allegations. Engaging the services of a skilled qui tam defense lawyer or false claims act defense attorney is essential to safeguard the contractor’s interests and ensure the best possible outcome. By utilizing appropriate legal defenses and expert guidance, contractors can protect their reputation, finances, and standing in the government contracting industry.
If you are looking to find a False Claims Act defense lawyer to defend in a qui tam lawsuit for a free confidential evaluation, please contact us at 1.866.601.5518 or contact us online.