If you are planning on filing a Qui Tam lawsuit, the following information may help you to better understand the basics and ground rules. Understanding what is a Qui Tam Relator is critical before hiring an attorney.
What Does Qui Tam Mean?
When it comes to federal government contracts a Qui Tam lawsuit is analyzed almost the same. The difference is that the federal government replaces the “king.” Under the Federal False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. §§ 3729 – 3733), a whistleblower, usually an employee, can file a lawsuit on behalf of the federal government, even if he or she can show no personal harm.
The law is to encourage people to notify the government of fraud or false certifications in hope of getting property or money. The Qui Tam Relator. (Plaintiff) would allege that the potential defendant, a government contractor ( large or small business) committed some level of fraud against the government.
What is a Qui Tam Relator?
The Federal False Claims Act (FCA) allows individual citizens, employees, or even other contractors to bring legal actions against companies and individuals for committing fraud against the federal government. Qui Tam Relator False Claims Act lawsuits are also known as Qui Tam lawsuits. What is A Qui Tam Relator? This person is otherwise known as the whistleblower, or his or her attorney will file a fraud action in federal district court. Qui tam relators after filing the case, may cooperate and provide evidence or information to the federal agency and investigators in prosecuting the case to recover damages.
What is Fraud in a Qui Tam Case?
When an individual or government contractor intentionally seeks to defraud the federal government with the intent of getting paid, getting government contracts or property as a result of the fraudulent act, the elements of fraud is somewhat easy to meet. Fraud in a Qui Tam Whistleblower case can involve government contractors who submit substandard materials, seek to bill the government for work not performed; provide false certifications in order to get government contracts; violate SBA small business regulations, and failure to follow procurement regulations. See information about avoiding government contracting fraud.
Fraud in a Qui Tam lawsuit can cause both criminal liability and civil fines or both. The False Claims Act (FCA) also known in the legal world as the “Lincoln Law,” creates financial and criminal liability, including prison time, on the defendant individuals and companies that commit fraud against the federal government.
Many whistleblower cases include government contract fraud and defending a Qui Tam civil action case can be done if a contractor has the right Qui Tam defense lawyer on its team. See information about Qui Tam cases and subcontractor liability.
What Happens During a Qui Tam Lawsuit?
Under Lincoln law, a third party who has evidence that his or her employer or a government contractor is defrauding the government can file a lawsuit against the employer. The case is filed in the name of the United States. After the case is filed, the federal government can intervene and show interest in all or part of the Qui Tam case. If the government does not show interest or intervene, then the Relator must either pursue the case on its own or dismiss the case. The False Claims Act Qui Tam cases reward the Relator/whistleblower if the case is successful and the government receives compensation. The Government can choose dismiss the action notwithstanding the objections of the qui tam relator initiating the action if the relator has been notified by the Government of the filing of the motion and the court has provided the person with an opportunity for a hearing on the motion.
Who Can Become a Qui Tam Relator?
A Qui Tam Relator is an individual, subcontractor or other personnel / employee who has first-hand knowledge of the alleged fraud against the federal government. A Qui Tam Relator is usually in a position to provide convincing evidence to law enforcement (DOJ) and investigators for the Qui Tam action to be successful. Filing a claim only does not create a Qui Tam relationship. A lawsuit must be filed on behalf of the government.
Who Can be a Qui Tam Relator? Can a Federal Employee Become a Qui Tam Relator?
Generally, anyone that has credible evidence can become a Qui Tam relator. Normally, employees of government contractors tend to bring the most cases. Facts and circumstances can determine if federal government employees can serve as a False Claims Act Qui Tam Relator when a defendant has committed fraud against the government. Obviously, a government employee cannot turn in the federal government for fraud. In some circumstances having knowledge that a contractor is defrauding the government may qualify a government employee.
Do Qui Tam Relators Who Bring False Claims Act Cases Have Any Protection?
Although many government contractors have internal policies about reporting fraud and mandatory disclosure, the employee or whistleblower may run the risk of being identified and exposed to adverse action from the employer. Government contractors fall under the Whistleblower protection statutes which prohibit employers or contractors from acting adversely against the relator for reporting or identifying fraud against the federal government
The Whistleblower Protection Act protects “any disclosure of information” by federal government employees that they “reasonably believes evidences an activity constituting a violation of law, rules, or regulations, or mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety.”
It prohibits employer retaliation that includes demotions, pay cuts, or dismissals for blowing the whistle and provides legal remedies to whistleblowers who experience such retaliation. The Whistleblower Protect Act also allows the relator to disclose information with confidentiality protections.
Employer Penalties for Violating the Federal False Claims Act (FCA) 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729 – 3733
Almost all qui tam relator False Claims Act cases target the Federal False Claims Act ( 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729 – 3733) as the ultimate remedy to employers and government contractor. If found liable can be exposed to some stiff penalties which include paying three times the amount of the loss. Civil penalties for each fraudulent claim. When companies are found to have violated the law, government contractors and employer may also have to pay certain expenses such as attorney fees and other associated costs associated to the qui tam relator. A portion of the awarded funds go to the qui tam relator. This can be between15% and 30% of the total amount collected by the government.
Need Help Bring a Qui Tam Lawsuit that Involves a Federal Government Contract?
Our Qui Tam lawyers help Relators to bring a lawsuit providing the facts that strongly support a positive outcome when cases involve crimes committed against the government. Call us today at 1.866.601.5518.
Defending a Qui Tam False Claims Act Lawsuit?
For immediate help responding to federal investigations about allegations of false or fraudulent claims, understanding what is a qui tam relator, how to fight back, or help to get through the False Claims Act process, call our False Claims Qui Tam Defense Lawyers at Watson & Associates LLC for a FREE Initial Consultation. Call Toll-Free 1.866.601.5518. We are located in Washington DC and Denver, Colorado.