Under the federal False Claims Act, private individuals, or whistleblowers, with knowledge of past or present fraud committed against the U.S. federal government can bring a civil lawsuit on the government’s behalf. These lawsuits are called qui tam lawsuits, which is short for the Latin phrase “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hoc parte sequitur,” meaning “he who sues for the king as well as for himself.” Fraud against the government comes in many forms, including:

  • postal fraud
  • fraud involving government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • contractor and/or construction fraud
  • grant fraud
  • utilities, telecommunications, and energy fraud
  • Medicare or Medicaid fraud

The qui tam provisions of the federal False Claims Act provides for treble damages and penalties of $11,000 per violation for virtually any kind of fraud on federally funded programs. Although qui tam lawsuits are

brought to recover damages on the government’s behalf, whistleblowers are allowed to keep between 15-30% of the damages recovered as a whistleblower reward. This incentive is meant to encourage whistleblowers to come forward with information about fraud being perpetrated against the government.

Whistleblower Lawsuits

Whistleblowers have achieved huge recoveries on the government’s behalf in qui tam lawsuits. In fact, between 1986 and 2006, the government recovered a total of $18.1 billion in qui tam lawsuits under the False Claims Act, roughly $11 billion of which resulted from qui tam cases which were initiated by whistleblowers. During the same period, relator, or whistleblower shares exceeded S1.79 billion.

In 2006 alone, the federal government recovered more than $3.1 billion under the False Claims Act, $1.3 billion of which resulted from qui tam lawsuits initiated by whistleblowers.  During the course of the same year, whistleblowers received nearly $200 million in qui tam awards.

Whistleblower Attorneys

Because lawsuits involving fraud against the government are extremely complex, it is important to fully understand all that a qui tam lawsuit involves before deciding to pursue such a claim. An experienced whistleblower attorney can inform you of the risks and benefits of filing a qui tam lawsuit, and can protect your legal rights and interests should you decide to file a qui tam lawsuit.

If you are considering filing a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit, contact one of our experienced, trial-ready whistleblower attorneys today for a free and confidential case evaluation.

Published November 17, 2011 by