A Qui Tam lawsuit is special kind of lawsuit. Here, a lawsuit is filed in Florida courts or in federal ones, in which a private citizen (sometimes called a “whistleblower” or “relator”) sues an individual or company as plaintiff, to recover money or funds the defendant (individual or company)received from a state or federal government through theft or fraud.
The citizen (or “whistleblower”) brings the “Qui Tam” suit on behalf of the state or federal government for violation of a statute called the “False Claims Act.” This statutory scheme dates back to Civil War times, and was passed to combat rampant fraud that existed in military contracts. Similar laws exist on the state level as well, and the combination of federal and state laws are among the single most effective tools taxpayers have for exposing and combating fraud against the government.
Qui Tam lawsuits have involved bill padding, overstated costs, substandard products, charges for products or services that weren’t provided, purchase of products or services for applications or uses contrary to regulatory approval, and cheating the government out of money in various other ways. The governmental departments victimized by these practices run the gamut from government health programs and education departments to the military and defense departments.
In its current form, the federal False Claims Act prohibits any “person” from “knowingly present[ing], or caus[ing] to be presented, to an officer or employee of the United States Government or a member of the Armed Forces of the United States a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval.” 31 U.S.C. 3729(a)(1). The Act also prohibits a variety of related deceptive practices involving government funds and property. Tax matters are excluded from the Act, however.
Under both Floridaand federal False Claims Acts, as well as those of other states, whistleblowers are entitled to share in any civil recovery achieved by the government based on the relator’s original material information. Where the government intervenes in the case, the relator stands to receive between 15-25% of the civil recovery, and where the government declines intervention the relator can receive between 25-35% of the civil recovery.
To qualify for a share of the recovery, the whistleblower/relator must provide inside information that aids the government in securing a recovery. Being well prepared with specific documents and organized information are critical to presenting a successful whistleblower case. Facts matter. A history of important events is good, too. The more detail, the better.
The Qui Tam attorneys of Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L., are litigators and trial lawyers. We are former prosecutors and investigators. We share an intense passion for the law and for our roles as legal advocates for our clients. Integrity, hard work, preparation, creativity, camaraderie, and skill are central tenets of our law practice.
Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L., is currently prosecuting numerous qui tam whistleblower cases that are under seal and cannot be revealed or discussed in detail, but that cover a broad range of areas from military contracting to prescription drug benefits to fraudulent billing.