Qui Tam/Whistleblower FAQ's

What is a Whistleblower/Qui Tam Lawsuit?

Whistleblower or Qui Tam Lawsuits are based on either the Federal False Claim Act or a similar state False Claim Act. These statutes permit individuals with knowledge of fraud against a governmental agency to sue, on the government's behalf, to recover triple the amount of money that the government has lost.

What does Qui Tam mean?

Qui Tam is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase " qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur," meaning "[he] who sues in this matter for the king as [well as] for himself." The lawsuit is brought on the government's behalf, and the whistleblower receives a share of the government's monetary recovery.

What is a whistleblower?

In a Qui Tam lawsuit, the whistleblower is referred to as "the relator" and is typically an employee who has knowledge that their employer is defrauding the government.

Can I get paid for being a whistleblower?

Yes. If there is a favorable judgment at trial or a settlement as a result of a qui tam action, the relator is entitled to a percentage of the recovery.

How much money can whistleblowers receive?

A whistleblower or relator receives between 15 and 30% of the government's share of the monetary recovery of a settlement or favorable judgment at trial.

Who can be held liable under the False Claims Act?

Any organization that receives money, helps others acquire money, or pays money to the government can be held liable under the False Claims Act. Some examples of qui tam defendants include:

  1. Medical Service Providers or Manufacturers
    These include: drug manufacturers, medical device manufacturers, hospitals, HMO's, medical clinics or doctors. The medical provider qui tam lawsuits are often based on Medicare or Medicaid fraud, and involve a variety of fraudulent billing practices including performing unnecessary services or procedures, overcharging or charging for services not rendered.
  2. Government Contractors or Subcontractors
    Any provider of goods or services to the government can be a qui tam defendant based on a number of scenarios including: substandard or defective goods, lack of quality assurance, selling goods at an inflated price, failing to follow contract specifications or requirements, or any other submittal of false or fraudulent billing to a governmental agency.
  3. Businesses or Universities
    Any business that sells something to the government or receives grants can be a qui tam defendant.

Is all of my information confidential?

Yes. The information that you provide to The Emge Firm, LLP is confidential.

Will my identity be kept secret if I file a qui tam?

When a qui tam action is filed, it is filed under seal. This means that during the time period that the government is investigating the claims in the qui tam lawsuit, the defendant is not told your name or about the existence of a lawsuit. After the government's investigation has concluded and they decide whether or not to intervene, the seal is lifted and your name will become part of the public record.

Can I get fired for turning in my employer?

Employers are legally prohibited from firing or retaliating against an employee for whistleblowing.

How much does it cost to bring a qui tam lawsuit?

If The Emge Firm, LLP takes your case, we will represent you on a contingency basis, so you will have no out of pocket legal fees or costs. We get paid only if your claim results in a settlement or monetary award and our fees are a percentage of your recovery.

Do I need to have first hand knowledge of the illegal acts of my employer?

To be a relator or a whistleblower, you must have first hand knowledge of the fraudulent activity. For example, finding out about a fraudulent incident from a neighbor or the newspaper is not sufficient.

What if I already told my employer about the illegal activity?

Reporting the fraudulent activity or your employer or their HR Department does not preclude you from filing a qui tam action. In addition, generally speaking, it is not necessary for you to report the fraud prior to filing a qui tam.

What if somebody else has already reported the fraudulent activity?

Only the first relator to file a qui tam action is entitled to a percentage of the qui tam award.

Are there penalties under the False Claims Act?

The government may recover 3 times the amount that they were defrauded plus civil penalties of $5,500 to $11,000 for each false claim submitted.

How long does a qui tam take to resolve?

From the time that a qui tam lawsuit is filed until its resolution can take between a few months and several years, depending on the case.

If I have already informed the government of the fraud, do I still have the right to bring a qui tam action?

Possibly. However, if you inform the government of the fraud and the government files its own qui tam action before you file a qui tam action than you would no longer have standing to proceed.