Qui tam is an abbreviated version of the Latin phrase “Qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso,” which means: “He who sues on behalf of the King, as well as for Himself.” It is a provision of the False Claims Act that provides significant financial incentives to a whistleblower to retain counsel to prosecute these lawsuits and fight government fraud.
An individual (often referred to as “whistleblower” or “relator”) who knows of fraud committed against the government may file a lawsuit to recover the losses caused by the fraud.
To read about all the different types of whistleblower cases, please visit the page on types of cases.
To encourage private citizens to expose fraud committed against the government, the FCA rewards whistleblowers a percentage of the money that was recovered for the government. A whistleblower can receive between 15 and 30 percent of the amount recovered.
In general, when the government declines to intervene, the whistleblower is entitled to a share of the recovery between 25 and 30 percent. When the government intervenes, the whistleblower is entitled to a share of the recovery between 15 and 25 percent.
The exact amount of the reward depends upon many factors, including:
The contribution of the whistleblower and his or her counsel, whether the government intervenes and if so, at what stage. However, the greater the contribution made by the whistleblower and his or her counsel, the higher the percentage of the award.
Please note that recovery results vary per client. The recovery amounts in each case reflect the specific facts of that case. Further, recovery amounts in past cases are not a guarantee of future results.
Once a whistleblower decides to proceed with the prosecution of the government fraud, he or she may retain a lawyer to file a lawsuit against the company or person committing the fraud. The lawsuit must be filed in camera under seal, which means that the case is kept confidential during the initial phase and only becomes public once the seal is lifted.
After the case is filed, the U.S. Attorney General will investigate the allegations of the lawsuit. The lawsuit is kept under seal for a minimum of 60 days, but this time period may be (and almost always is) extended when warranted by the circumstances.
If the U.S. Attorney General believes the lawsuit is meritorious, the U. S. government will intervene and take an active role in the lawsuit. The government intervenes in approximately 20 percent of the cases filed. The intervention rate for health care and procurement are slightly higher at 33 and 29 percent respectively.
Even if the government intervenes, the whistleblower retains the right to a portion of any recovery on behalf of the government. If the government does not intervene, the whistleblower may pursue the lawsuit independently. If damages are awarded, the whistleblower may receive between 15 and 30 percent of the recovery.
The length of time for a qui tam case varies depending on:
Therefore, your case could take anywhere from a matter of months to years. The median length of time for a case where the government has intervened is approximately 38 months. However, these cases have been resolved as quickly as 4 months and have taken as long as 187 months.
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