False Claims Act/Qui Tam
Committing an act of fraud against the federal government is obviously illegal. In order to deter fraud as well as encourage reporting of fraudulent actions against the government, in 1863, the False Claims Act was created. Under the act, private individuals are incentivized to report any fraudulent acts against the government committed by others. Here is an overview of what you should know about the False Claims Act and the term qui tam.
Qui Tam and the False Claims Act
Under the 1863 False Claims Act, Congress provided individual, private citizens who have evidence of fraud against the federal government the right to bring a lawsuit through a qui tam action. Qui tam means, “in the name of our king.” Through a qui tam action, a private actor, known as the ‘relator’ in legal language, can both pursue an action against a defendant and is entitled to a percentage of the recovery amount. The specific amount that can be recovered depends, in part, on whether or not the government intervenes in the action.
Who can Bring Forth a Qui Tam Action?
A relator, or whistleblower, maintains a cause of action against a defendant if they have evidence that fraud against the government, such as fraud against federal programs or contracts, has been committed. Direct personal knowledge of the fraudulent scheme, and other evidence that false claims were submitted to the government for payment, drives these types of cases.
One of the first things a person must do if they have evidence of fraud is to seek legal representation from an experienced qui tam lawyer who has a successful track record for handling whistleblower claims. The qui tam lawyer will file the lawsuit “under seal,” which means that it is kept a secret so that the government can fully investigate the allegations, often with the help of the whistleblower’s lawyer. In some cases, the government may decide to intervene. If not, the plaintiff may continue to pursue legal action on its behalf.
It is important that qui tam matters remain confidential, so you must be careful not to discuss your potential case with anyone other than your attorney to protect your ability to recover under the False Claims Act.
Examples Of Violations Under The False Claims Act
- Presenting a claim for payment to the federal government knowing it is false or fraudulent
- Attempting to get a claim paid by the federal government using a false record or statement
- Conspiring with other individuals to get the federal government to pay for a false or fraudulent claim
- Intentionally using false records or statements to avoid satisfying a financial obligation or transmit property to the federal government
- Overcharging for goods and services provided by government contracts
- Marketing or promoting drugs or medical devices for uses that have not been approved by the FDA
- Telemarketers who make direct telephone solicitations with no legitimate medical referral and attempt to induce someone into purchasing medical product
- Under the New Jersey False Claims Act, fraudulent conduct by contractors and subcontractors who fail to do their job
Recovery Under the False Claims Act
If the evidence presented is strong, and if the plaintiff’s qui tam lawyer has successfully presented the case, a plaintiff may be entitled to a sizeable compensation. Specifically, the plaintiff may receive a “relator’s share” of the amount the government recovers. The amounts can vary, depending on whether or not the government intervenes in the case. If the government does intervene, a plaintiff can expect anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the recovery, and up to 25 to 30 percent if the matter is pursued without the government’s assistance. The plaintiff will only receive compensation if the government recovers money from the lawsuit, and the plaintiff’s recovery is determined by a settlement or court judgment.
Statute of Limitations
If you have evidence of a fraudulent action taken against the government and are considering filing a qui tam action under the False Claims Act, you must do so within the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for a qui tam action is within three years of the date when facts relevant to the course of action are known or reasonably should have been known, or within six years of when the violation is committed, whichever date comes later.
Get Help from a Qualified False Claims Act Attorney
At the law office of McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C., our false claims attorneys in New Jersey are available to help you navigate a qui tam action if you have evidence of another defrauding the government. Please contact our lawyer directly today for a free consultation. You can reach us online or by phone to learn more and get started.