What does Qui Tam mean?

Qui tam is short for the Latin phrase “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur,” which roughly translates to “he who brings an action for the king as well as for himself.”

What is a “Relator”? 

“Relator” is the legal term used to describe the whistleblower who initiates a lawsuit under the False Claims Act on behalf of the United States.

How old is the False Claims Act? 

The False Claims Act, originally enacted in 1863, “‘was originally aimed principally at stopping the massive frauds perpetrated by large contractors during the Civil War.’” . . . ‘[A] series of sensational congressional investigations’ prompted hearings where witnesses ‘painted a sordid picture of how the United States had been billed for nonexistent or worthless goods, charged exorbitant prices for goods delivered, and generally robbed in purchasing the necessities of war.’” Universal Health Services, Inc. v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar, 136 S. Ct. 1989, 1996 (2016).

What types of false claims are prohibited by the False Claims Act?

“Claim” under the False Claims Act means “any request or demand, whether under a contract or otherwise, for money or property and whether or not the United States has title to the money or property, that—(i) is presented to an officer, employee, or agent of the United States; or (ii)is made to a contractor, grantee, or other recipient, if the money or property is to be spent or used on the Government’s behalf or to advance a Government program or interest, and if the United States Government—(I) provides or has provided any portion of the money or property requested or demanded; or (II) will reimburse such contractor, grantee, or other recipient for any portion of the money or property which is requested or demanded.”

The False Claims Act makes it unlawful for any person who:

(A) knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval;

(B) knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim;

(C) conspires to commit a violation of subparagraph (A), (B), (D), (E), (F), or (G);

(D) has possession, custody, or control of property or money used, or to be used, by the Government and knowingly delivers, or causes to be delivered, less than all of that money or property;

(E) is authorized to make or deliver a document certifying receipt of property used, or to be used, by the Government and, intending to defraud the Government, makes or delivers the receipt without completely knowing that the information on the receipt is true;

(F) knowingly buys, or receives as a pledge of an obligation or debt, public property from an officer or employee of the Government, or a member of the Armed Forces, who lawfully may not sell or pledge property; or

(G) knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government, or knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government.

These provisions prohibit false claims of all kinds that cause the United States to transfer money or property.  Just about any industry, from the health care industry to the defense industry and all other forms of government contracting, may implicate the False Claims Act.

Is there a deadline for filing a whistleblower Qui Tam lawsuit? 

The deadline for filing a claim under the False Claims Act is six (6) years after the date on which a violation is committed or three (3) after the date when facts material to the right of action are known or reasonably should have been known by the official of the United States charged with responsibility to act in the circumstances, but no more than ten (10) years after the date on which the violation is committed, whichever occurs last.

For what reason should I consult a whistleblower lawyer for my False Claim Act case? 

Under the False Claims Act, a Relator may not bring a lawsuit pro se, or without legal representation. U.S. ex rel. Mergent Services v. Flaherty, 540 F.3d 89, 93 (2d Cir. 2008). Also, an attorney who is experienced with the False Claims Act can assist you in evaluating and presenting your claim to the government, which will increase the likelihood that the government will recognize the value in the claim and potentially assume responsibility for prosecuting the action.

Would my involvement in a Qui Tam lawsuit be confidential?

Initially, a Qui Tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act is filed under seal while the Government investigates your allegations.  The initial seal period is 60 days, but is typically extended several times.  The process of investigation may last a long time, years even, and during that period the case remains under seal.  Eventually, however, if and when the case is settled, or if the Government intervenes and litigates the case, or if the Government declines the case and you decide to litigate the case on your own, the case and your involvement may become public.  Even if the case is dismissed by the Government or by you, the Court may unseal the case at that time, making the complaint public.  Sometimes, Relators choose to bring lawsuits under the False Claims Act through a legal entity formed for that purpose in order to help shield their identities from the public even if the complaint is unsealed by the court. 

What is the First-to-File rule?

Under the False Claims Act, the court is required to dismiss any Qui Tam action that is “based upon allegations or transactions which are the subject of a civil suit or an administrative civil money penalty proceeding in which the Government is already a party.”  This is referred to as the “first-to-file” rule, which means that it is important to file a Qui Tam lawsuit at the earliest opportunity so that your allegations are not preempted by another Relator who is making the same allegations against the same defendant(s).


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