FAQ - The Ins and Outs of Whistleblower Laws
What is a qui tam lawsuit?
A qui tam lawsuit is a civil lawsuit that allows private individuals to bring lawsuits on behalf of the government. These private individuals are known as Relators because they relate information to the government. Relators must have personal knowledge and/or evidence that a person or company is defrauding the state and/or federal government. Relators can help the government combat fraud and obtain up to 25% of the government's recovery if the qui tam lawsuit is successful.
What happens after a qui tam lawsuit is filed?
Once a qui tam lawsuit is filed, the government has a minimum of 60-days to investigate the qui tam claims. After the government has investigated the claims, it may either intervene in the lawsuit and actively participate or decline to intervene and not participate in the litigation of the case. If the government declines to intervene, the Relator may continue to pursue the case.
What kinds of qui tam lawsuits can be filed?
There are many areas in which federal and state governments are defrauded. Many qui tam lawsuits involve:
- Medicare or Medicaid billings
- Healthcare of pharmaceutical industry
- Defense contracting
- Contract procurement
- Education industry
- Environment industry
What are examples of false claims?
If you are aware of any of the following actions, you may have a qui tam.
- Falsifying costs billed
- Upcoding: charging at a higher level service than actually provided
- Billing for services not provided
- Billing for unnecessary or worthless services
Incidents like those listed above are all potential qui tam lawsuits. You should immediately consult with an attorney to determine how to proceed.
What federal laws govern a qui tam case?
Qui Tam cases are brought on behalf of the United States through the federal False Claims Act statute, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729, et seq. The federal FCA statute permits a private individual to bring a qui tam action against any individual or company who submits a false claim to the United States.
Does California have a qui tam law?
Yes. California has the California False Claims Act ("CFCA") statute, Cal. Gov. Code §§ 12650, et seq. The CFCA statute closely mirrors the federal statute and allows private citizens to bring a qui tam actio against any individual or company who submits a false claim to the State of California.
Why should I file a qui tam case?
If the qui tam lawsuit is successful, the whistleblower may recover up to 25-30% of the government's recovery determined by whether the government intervened in the case and other factors that the courts will consider.
The award includes attorneys fees and other costs associated with the litigation. It is important to know that the courts can reduce or increase the percentage of the money awarded to whistleblowers based on a variety of factors. You should retain an attorney to pursue a qui tam lawsuit so that your interests are represented at every stage of the case.
Do I need an attorney to file a qui tam lawsuit?
It is encouraged that you consult with an attorney if you know or suspect that fraud has occurred. Courts have dismissed qui tam actions brought by whistleblowers who are not represented by attorneys.1 Qui tam cases are difficult cases to file and manage. They involve many stakeholders, including the government, you and various companies. With an experienced qui tam attorney, you can rest assured that your rights will be protected and defended.
Call Our Legal Professionals To Discuss Your Qui Tam Case
At the Arnold Law Firm, our Sacramento whistleblower attorneys have the depth of experience to guide you through the entire whistleblowing process from start to finish.
If you have suffered discrimination after speaking out against corporate wrongdoing, contact us today at (916) 777-7777 and let our legal professionals discuss your legal options.
We have many years of experience and your initial consultation is free of charge.
1 Stoner v. Santa Clara County Office of Educ., 502 F.3d 1116, 1126-28 (9th Cir. 2007); Hendow v. Univ., of Phoenix, 296 Fed. Appx. 587 (9th Cir. 2008); Williams v. Coalinga State Hospital, 2010 WL 3432304 (E.D. Cal. 2010).