5 Things You Need to Know About Qui Tam Lawsuits

What Is a Qui Tam Lawsuit?

A qui tam lawsuit is a type of whistleblower lawsuit in which an employee or contractor, called a “relator” in legal terms, brings suit on behalf of the government. These suits are also referred to as whistleblower lawsuits. They typically involve the detection and reporting of false claims against the government (fraud against the government) by the company’s owners. An employee blowing the whistle on their employer and bringing suit on behalf of the government so they can recover related damages is called a Whistleblower Lawsuit. Successful whistleblowers are entitled to receive up to 30% of the damages and penalties recovered by the government as a result of their actions. Below are more details about these types of lawsuits, including eligibility requirements, possible risks, and examples of qui tam cases that have resulted in significant whistleblower award.

Requirements to File a Qui Tam Lawsuit

First, you should know several conditions must be met for you to file a qui tam action. First, the fraud must have been committed against the government, agencies, or programs. The most obvious and common examples of this type of fraud include Medicare fraud, Medicaid fraud, and defense contractor fraud.  Second, you must be an employee or contractor who was or is involved with the government contract in question. In other words, this means you must have firsthand knowledge of the actual fraud committed against the government to be eligible to file a qui tam lawsuit.  Finally, you must file the action within 6 years of the time you first learned about the fraud. This is called the statute of limitations, and it applies to every qui tam action.

Possible Risks in Filing a Qui Tam Lawsuit

There are several possible risks involved in filing a qui tam lawsuit, including the following. You may experience retaliation in the form of a decrease in pay or other employment benefits. You may also face other forms of retaliation from your employer, such as being demoted or fired.  However, these risks are minimized because the government affords certain protections for whistleblowers. The False Claims Act protects against retaliation: Whistleblowers may not be harassed, threatened, demoted, fired, or otherwise discriminated against because of their decision to come forward. Other risks include receiving a lower financial award if you are successful in your lawsuit. This is where an experienced Whistleblower Attorney can help. If you are considering blowing the whistle but have concerns, talk to a whistleblower lawyer who can further explain the process and the merits of your case.

Examples of Whistleblower Awards

These are a few examples of whistleblower award cases that have resulted in significant awards for the whistleblower.  As a reward for blowing the whistle on GlaxoSmithKline in 2012, four whistleblowers split an estimated $250 million reward. As part of a larger, $16.65 billion payout, whistleblowers shared a $170 million reward for exposing Bank of America’s fraudulent practice of labeling high-risk mortgages as safe and selling them to government-insured mortgage companies. In 2012, Johnson & Johnson paid $2.2 billion to settle off-label fraud and kickback allegations related to the prescription drugs Risperdal, Natrecor and Invega. The whistleblower received $167 million in rewards. Tenet Healthcare paid $900 million to settle allegations that it engaged in bill padding, upcoded DRG codes, paid kickbacks and fraudulently manipulated Medicare outlier payments. For reporting the fraud, the whistleblower received $150 million in 2006.

Conclusion

If you work in a government contracting company and have knowledge of fraud committed against the government, you can file a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the government. Such lawsuits are also referred to as whistleblower lawsuits. If your qui tam action is successful, you will receive a percentage of the damages recovered by the government as a result of your action.  Contact a whistleblower attorney today if you are thinking about blowing the whistle.