Qui tam, according to the Qui Tam Information Center, is a provision of the Federal Civil False Claims Act (1863) that allows private citizens to file a lawsuit in the name of the United States government. These claims allege fraud by government contractors and/or others who either received or abused government funds, and allows those private citizens to share in the monies recovered.
Qui Tam is a term that is used in Law to connote whistleblower protection laws. The protection provided is for those individuals who notify the government of their suspicions of fraud and/or abuse. The term’s origin is from the Latin expression “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipse.” The phrase literally asserts “he who sues the king as for himself.”
Such actions frequently occur in situations in which employees report fraud and or/abuse in which their employers have engaged. The federal law, out of which the concept of whistle-blower emerged, the False Claims Act (1863, revised in 1986), was intended to combat fraud during the Civil War in which suppliers to the federal government engaged. As a result of the benefits the government derives from these actions, individuals who bring such actions may receive a percentage of either any money recovered or damages identified in the fraud exposed.
It is private citizens who generally file such actions on behalf of the government. The intended purpose is to prevent fraud and abuse. A lawsuit loan may be required to assist such individuals in pursuing the litigation against the entity engaging in the fraud.
Individuals who bring such suits are also called relators. When such cases are filed, the relator need not have been personally harmed by the defendant’s conduct. Additionally, the False Claims Act allows the relator to recover 15-30% of any settlement amount. Furthermore, the statute provides for payment of attorney’s fees. (Attorneys are required to bring such lawsuits, due to the fact that these cases are brought on behalf of the government and may only be prosecuted by an attorney.)
This is a very effective tool in combating fraud and abuse. It provides private citizens the knowledge and resources they need to combat such egregious acts. Unfortunately, many of the individuals who bring such actions are persecuted by the entity against which the action is filed. These individuals should be commended for their courage in speaking out against fraud and abuse, and admired for performing their civic duty.
These actions, unlike customary claims, involve situations in which the government may actually elect to pursue the entity against which the fraud is alleged. If this does occur, the relator who initially brings the action to the government’s attention will often assist the government in its prosecution, but will not bear legal expenses related thereto. In such instances, a lawsuit loan may be unnecessary.
Significantly, if the government chooses not to prosecute the case, the relator may still be able to pursue a civil claim against the abusers. In such situations, the lawsuit loan is often required to enable the individual to continue in the prosecution against the entity against which they claim is brought.
One should also bear in mind that many expenses arise when such claims are filed. Although it is true that the whistleblower does have protection under the law from wrongful termination etc., employers often ignore this requirement. In such instances, the relators resources may quickly diminish.
The law was enacted to effectively identify and prosecute government fraud and abuse. However, it was also enacted to address issues related to fraudulent activity in which government-related entities engaged. To determine whether a lawsuit loan would be required in such instances, it would be necessary to thoroughly investigate the issues involved. One should bear in mind that while awaiting the government’s decision and action, the individual who filed such an action has expenses that continue to mount, in many cases following the loss of employment pending the government’s determination.
Under the Act, whistle-blowers also receive protection from wrongful termination. Additionally, the Act allows for reinstatement with seniority, double back pay, interest on back pay, compensation for discriminatory treatment, and reasonable legal expenses. Once again, it is the delay between the date on which the wrongful termination occurred and the date on which reinstatement is achieved that creates a tremendous financial burden on the claimant. It is during this interval that a lawsuit loan may be required.
In 1978, Congress adopted legislation that barred reprisals against those who expose government fraud and abuse. Due to the widespread harassment and dismissal of employees who reported fraud and abuse against employers, Congress found that it had to strengthen its position to protect whistleblowers in 1989. Subsequently, many states have adopted specific employment laws addressing the issue of discrimination against such employees.
Due to expenses incurred, it is often necessary to obtain a lawsuit loan to avoid being buried under your financial obligations. If you do find yourself in such a situation, do your homework in obtaining settlement funding designed to suit your needs.