The United States Coast Guard regularly patrols the national coastline, answering distress calls and enforcing national laws regarding maritime trade and behaviors. To assist this branch of the United States military and protect one of America’s most frequented shores, the government as a special qui tam law that affects the state of Florida in particular. The law, which prohibits the movement of property from wreckage to a foreign port, can provide an important legal defense for this property, and gives citizens the power to help the Coast Guard.
Qui tam law generally targets fraudulent actions on a national scale, but it can be directed towards more specific needs if necessary. Beyond major fraud cases for federal services such as Medicare, the government also uses qui tam whistleblower actions to assist the day-to-day protection of the military. This means that the relator, or whistleblowers, can bring a suit that may point out contract fraud from defense contractors. In the case of the Florida wreckage law, this qui tam action can assist local law enforcement and the Coast Guard.
This law protects the property on board a wrecked vessel off the Florida coast, one of America’s most widely used shores. If a domestic or foreign ship takes anything from a wreckage, they are not legally permitted to then move that property to a foreign port. If an individual knows that this has happened, they are asked to report the activity to the government by filing legal action.
The results of a qui tam wreckage suit are similar to other fraud cases. The penalties for violating this law are the potential loss of the vessel, the gear on the vessel, and anything moved off of the wreckage. If the individuals being prosecuted have sold the property, the funds gained from that sale can be taken in the suit. If the government takes the case and wins, the property taken in the suit is split between the government and the whistleblower.
For more information regarding this largely unknown law, contact a qui tam lawyer.
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