What In the World Does Qui Tam Mean?

Qui tam is Latin for “who as well for the king as for himself sues in this matter.” Say what?

Qui tam (pronounced kee-tam) is a type of lawsuit brought under the US False Claims Act. It’s the “whistleblower” provision of the FCA that encourages people to share information with regard to fraudulent activity being committed against the government. It’s different than other types of legal action because, in a qui tam case, the plaintiff (a private citizen known as the relator or whistleblower) is initiating the lawsuit but was not the person who was directly harmed.

The government has recovered billions of dollars thanks to brave whistleblowers who have helped to uncover fraudulent schemes against Medicare and Medicaid and countless other government programs and initiatives. A relator stands to profit financially from blowing the whistle; the amount of the reward is based on a number of factors including whether or not the government intervenes and joins the lawsuit and whether the case is tried in court or a settlement is reached between the parties.

Here’s how it works:

  1. If you believe you have information that will leads authorities to root out fraudulent activity being committed against the government by either an individual, group of people or company, you need to talk with an experienced qui tam lawyer who will help you decide if you have a case worth pursuing. This is important because qui tam cases can take a long time to process and you want to make sure you have an attorney on your side who believes in your case and will protect your rights for the long haul.
  2. If you decide to file a lawsuit under the False Claims Act, the qui tam suit is filed “under seal.” This allows the information to be kept private so the US Justice Department has the opportunity to review the allegations and decide whether or not to join the case. Even the accused party is not made aware of your intentions to uncover their fraud.

    This is another reason why you need to hire a seasoned qui tam lawyer. In order to convince the government to intervene, you are going to need to have significant evidence supporting your assertions. A good whistleblower lawyer will help you put together detailed information to make your case.

  3. After the government reviews the data and fully investigates the allegations, it will decide whether to join or “intervene in” the case. The Department of Justice (DOJ) does not choose to intervene in every case; in fact, only a small percentage of qui tam actions brought before the government are taken on by the DOJ. And, while the relator may pursue the case on his or her own (and often does), the chances of obtaining a favorable outcome exponentially increase when the government is on board.

If the government intervenes and recovers funds, the whistleblower is entitled to 15 to 25 percent of the money recovered. If the government chooses to step aside and the relator proceeds anyway with the assistance of his or her lawyer, the whistleblower reward increases to between 25 and 30 percent of the recovery. Since many qui tam cases are settled for multi-millions of dollars, being a successful whistleblower can be an extremely profitable endeavor.

If you believe you have information that may help to uncover fraudulent activity being committed against the government, we can help. Contact qui tam attorney Ross Begelman for a free consultation today. He will listen and ask questions and help you decide if your case is worth pursuing under the False Claims Act.

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