Providing Protection to South Carolina Whistleblowers
What is a Qui Tam Lawsuit?
Qui tam is a provision of the Federal Civil False Claims Act that allows private citizens to file a lawsuit in the name of the U.S. Government. The whistleblower alleges fraud by government contractors and others who receive or use government funds. Qui tam plaintiffs, also known as “relators,” share in any money recovered as a result of the claim.
The core of a whistleblower lawsuit is that the government was defrauded in one form or another — the “false claim.”
The whistleblower law was enacted by Congress in order to effectively identify and prosecute government purchasing and program fraud, and to recover revenue lost as a result of the fraud.
The basis for a false claim in a qui tam case may take many forms including:
- overcharging for a product,
- failing to perform a service and charging for the service,
- delivering less than the promised amount of goods or services,
- underpaying money owed to the government, and
- charging for one thing but delivering another.
Serving as Private Attorneys General
The qui tam provision has had the effect of privatizing government oversight by allowing private citizens to act as “private attorneys general.”
Although most of the early successes in qui tam actions have been against defense contractors, today more and more actions are being filed that involve other governmental agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Education (DOE), and the Veterans’ Administration (VA).
The total amount of money recovered under the False Claims Act since it was passed in1986 exceeds $12 billion. The amount of money shared with relators since 1986 totals over $1 billion.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Bring a Qui Tam Suit?
Technically, no. As a practical matter, absolutely.
In order for a qui tam lawsuit to succeed, a lawsuit must be filed with the federal government.
While you may file a whistleblower case without a lawyer, it is unlikely to be as successful as it would be if an attorney is involved. Due to the volume of qui tam cases filed with the U.S. Justice Department (over 300 cases per year since 1996), and the limited number of Justice Department lawyers working on them, only those cases that are well presented with strong evidence are likely to be joined by the federal government. Your attorney’s primary responsibility is to help you shape the case and present it to the Justice Department.
While the U.S. Justice Department only joins about 25% of qui tam cases, the cases it does participate in are settled or won over 85 percent of the time. If the Justice Department declines to join your qui tam case, the odds of success drop to 20 percent. While this does not make the suit impossible, it does emphasize the importance of using an attorney from the beginning to present the government with the strongest case possible.
At Strom Law Firm, our qui tam attorneys have the experience and the resources to ensure that your case goes smoothly.
If you are personally aware of a fraud that has been committed against the government by your current or former employer, a competitor or otherwise, and you believe that you have a whistleblower lawsuit, contact the Qui Tam attorneys at the Strom Law Firm today for a no cost consultation to discuss the facts of your case and whether filing a qui tam may be appropriate.