Qui Tam Attorney

Every year, the federal government is billed out of billions of dollars. The government depends on companies to provide all kinds of goods and services, but sometimes companies and individuals abuse that trust. If you have information about fraud against the government, and you want to file a suit on behalf  of the government and potentially obtain a reward for doing so, you should consult with an attorney. You should probably also have a basic understanding of qui tam law and the Federal False Claims Act. The following is intended to serve as a resource page for those looking for more information on the subject of false claims and fraud committed against the government. Again, if you have a complaint to lodge about fraud at your workplace, make sure you retain qualified legal counsel or at least consult with a DC qui tam lawyer.

History of Qui Tam Law

qui tam action is a lawsuit filed by a private citizen against a company or individual that has defrauded the government and therefore is pursued on behalf of the government. Such civil action can be filed with both state and federal authorities, and even some municipal and county authorities.

The term “qui tam” is short for a Latin phrase which means “he who sues on behalf of the king sues for himself as well.”

This right to sue on behalf of the U.S. government dates back to the Civil War. It was officially legislated in 1863, when Congress passed the Federal False Claims Act, which included these special qui tam provisions.

The Federal False Claims Act was a result of numerous individuals and companies defrauding the U.S. government during the civil war. The massive scale of the war effort required numerous government contracts to supply goods to the Union Army. Lawmakers were concerned that suppliers were defrauding the federal government, draining badly needed money and hurting Union fighting forces with overpriced or deficient supplies.

Qui Tam Actions Today

When the term qui tam shows up, what it refers to is the right of an individual to take action in court on behalf of the government. This right is important because, under the False Claims Act, the government may choose not to take over the fraud investigation and lawsuit. In such cases, the whistleblower may still choose to continue on with the suit alone.

Under the current federal law, a person who files a false claims case is entitled to a reward that can range from 15 percent to 30 percent of the government’s recovery.  This system of rewards helps make it possible for whistleblowers to provide information, and to work with a qui tam attorney and the government to fight fraud.  The information provided by whistleblowers is crucial to the government’s ability to track and fight fraudulent business practices. Sometime, employment lawyers will also contact qui tam attorneys for help.

Congress has not always appreciated the value of information provided by whistleblowers, and there have points in our history when the False Claims Act did not have the strength it has today. The modern version of this law begins in 1986, when Congress strengthened the law and made it more possible for individuals to sue on behalf of the government under this law. As a result, the number of qui tam suits has risen dramatically since 1987.

According the DOJ, the government was able to recover more than $3 billion as a result of False Claims cases in Fiscal Year 2013 alone. The top two areas that resulted in successful recoveries were health care and procurement fraud, with the latter category related largely to defense contractor fraud. As the DOJ noted in its December, 2013 announcement:

“The False Claims Act is the government’s primary civil remedy to redress false claims for government funds and property under government contracts, including national security and defense contracts, as well as under government programs as varied as Medicare, veterans benefits, federally insured loans and mortgages, transportation and research grants, agricultural supports, school lunches and disaster assistance. In 1986, Congress strengthened the Act by amending it to increase incentives for whistleblowers to file lawsuits on behalf of the government, which has led to more investigations and greater recoveries.”

“Most false claims actions are filed under the Act’s whistleblower, or qui tam, provisions, which allow private citizens to file lawsuits alleging false claims on behalf of the government.  If the government prevails in the action, the whistleblower, known as a relator, receives up to 30 percent of the recovery. The number of qui tam suits filed in fiscal year 2013 soared to 752 –100 more than the record set the previous fiscal year.   Recoveries in qui tam cases during fiscal year 2013 totaled $2. 9 billion, with whistleblowers recovering $345 million.”

Health Care Fraud

The health care industry is currently the sector creating the most cases in which whistleblowers file charges of fraud committed against the government.  The Department of Health and Human Services has been involved in nearly 50 percent of all these cases filed since 1987. Common types of health care fraud related to Qui Tam include kickbacks, charging for services not rendered, charging for services which were not medically necessary, and abusing the billing processes of government programs.

For example, both Medicare and Medicaid billing are based on a complex system of numerical codes. Some health care providers succumb to the temptation to “up-code” the bill, and thus increase the amount they charge the government. In addition, drug companies have paid some of the largest settlements under the False Claims Act for fraudulent marketing practices. The largest such recovery to date was against GlaxoSmithKline, which ultimately settled a case after paying $3 billon.

Other Qui Tam Cases

Defense contract fraud is also an area that leads to a great number of cases filed under the False Claims Act each year. Fraudulent practices include cross-charging, product substitution, improper cost allocation, failure to comply with contract specifications, and violation of the Truth in Negotiations Act (TINA). The largest settlement paid by a defense contractor so far is $325 million and paid by Northrop Grumman.

Other cases involve the many different industries the government depends on for goods and services. These range from public works, construction, environmental programs, loan guarantees, and agricultural subsidies, just to name a few.

Qui Tam Lawyer

The False Claims Acts grants individuals the right to sue a company, organization, or individual for defrauding the government.  Such a qui tam lawsuit must follow its own special legal procedure. Therefore, once a whistleblower believes they have evidence of qui tam fraud and decides that they need to come forward to expose that fraud they will need to contact an experienced qui tam lawyer to ensure their rights are protected.