More than 30 states and local governments boast False Claims Act laws, most of those states also are allowing for a qui tam provision, which allows individuals to sue. It seems that there would be many private parties pursuing whistleblower cases on their own when the government declines, especially since the government declines the majority of such cases.
Usually, this is not what happens. In most instances, when the government declines a case, then the plaintiff-relator decides not to continue to pursue. It is the rare exception that the case goes forward without government support and is successful, but it does happen. If an individual wants to know more about the importance of qui tam provisions, they should speak with an experienced whistleblower attorney.
Opportunity to Expose Wrongdoing
The importance of qui tam provisions is that when individuals may bring the case to expose the wrongdoing it puts the matter before a court. In that forum the government has to take such allegations seriously and investigate them and it does. In federal practice, it is up to the Department of Justice to investigate any False Claims Act case.
It also puts the burden on plaintiffs to file a case in court with the good faith belief that there is, in fact, a violation of the law. This process is not easy and that is one reason why courts have only seen some 700 cases filed annually by individuals under the Federal False Claims Act. The plaintiff’s lawyers do not run to the courthouse with cases unless they believe those cases are meritorious.
The Necessity of the Right to Sue
The right to sue under qui tam laws like the Federal False Claims Act is an important one, and most lawyers treat that right seriously. Qui tam provisions relate to the very narrow set of laws that allow an individual to bring the case to court and pursue that case themselves when they are acting on behalf of the government. It has proven to be extremely effective to have private counsel prepare cases and have the government review cases and even have private counsel continue to act on behalf of the government.
The Federal False Claims Act is and has been the most successful deterrent to fraud committed against the government that anyone has devised. It has been the most successful way for whistleblowers to obtain the type of professional help that they need to put their cases together in a way that makes the government able to investigate the claims properly. It has been the most successful set of laws in terms of returning funds to wrong government agencies. For all these reasons, the right for an individual to sue on behalf of the government under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act is one to cherish.
Other Kinds of Qui Tam Statutes
Two states have extended the reach of this right. In Illinois and California, it is possible to sue on behalf of the government, but not exactly for a government-related harm. California and Illinois have private insurance qui tam style of statutes, which allow individuals to sue on behalf of insurance companies that have been defrauded in some way.
This is obviously not a right that can be extended to every type of tort and every type of potential claim. It is always going to be the case that when suing on behalf of the government, the government is going to have an important role.
Call an Attorney to Discuss the Importance of Qui Tam Provisions
The importance of qui tam provisions is that they grant the party the right to identify fraud, namely the individual whistleblower. If an individual wants to know more about how qui tam provisions benefit them, they should consult a knowledgeable attorney that could answer their questions.