Qui Tam / Federal False Claims
The federal False Claims Act and its state counterparts offer an effective means to redress corruption against government by stopping it, and rewarding whistleblowers for their information. Qui tam cases are a powerful way for whistleblowers to help the government stop many kinds of fraud – Medicare and Medicaid fraud, defense contractor fraud and numerous other types of fraud that impact the government financially – and recover billions that have been stolen from the U.S. Treasury and taxpayers.
Plaintiffs in Qui tam lawsuits are called relators. Relators are not only protected under the law from retaliation, but may be eligible to receive an award of anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of the funds recovered by the government. Courts have ruled that relators must be represented by legal counsel.
Once an individual has evidence of fraud against the government and decides to blow the whistle, that person needs to find a lawyer. The state and federal False Claims Acts contain “first to file” provisions that reward the early reporting of false claims. This creates what has been referred to as a “race to the courthouse.” Therefore, potential relators should not sit on valid claims, because others may beat them to it.
It is also important for relators to keep their information confidential until after the government has unsealed the case. A qui tam lawsuit is filed “under seal,” meaning that it is kept secret from everyone but the government to give the Justice Department time to investigate the allegations. Even the person or entity being accused of fraud is not told about the qui tam case. The False Claims Act states that a qui tam case will be sealed for 60 days, but courts generally extend the seal multiple times to give the government enough time to investigate the allegations to decide whether to join the case. Government investigations can take years. Often times, if the government joins or intervenes, the case is resolved through settlement negotiations rather than a trial.
If you have information concerning fraud committed against the government, it is critical that you contact an attorney with experience handling qui tam lawsuits. The attorneys at McDonald & Kloth, LLC have successfully represented qui tam clients individually and with government intervention. Our attorneys understand that success with qui tam cases are largely dependent on a thorough investigation prior to presenting the case to the government. If you or anyone you know has information about a fraud be perpetrating against the government, you should immediately contact McDonald & Kloth, LLC for a free initial consultation.