False Claims Act Qui Tam Frequently Asked Questions

What is the False Claims Act?

The False Claims Act is a federal law governing the handling and protection of those who report misconduct or fraud against the government. The False Claims Acts covers reporting of misconduct or fraud that causes the government to suffer a financial loss.  This financial loss can be both direct (the government having to spend more money than it should) or can be the loss of value inherent in the quality of a good such as the government receiving an inferior or defective good. The False Claims Act penalties for fraud can be awarded in part to the whistleblower, ranging from 15-30% of the government’s recovery depending on the work uncovered and the whistleblower’s assistance in the investigation of the misconduct. 

What is a Qui Tam lawsuit?

Qui tam lawsuits are civil lawsuits brought by a whistleblower, or “relator”, to prosecute false claims on behalf of the government.  Sometimes the government will join (or “intervene”) and assist in the lawsuit, while other times the lawsuit proceeds without the government’s assistance or participation.

A whistleblower that brings a qui tam lawsuit may be rewarded a portion of the amount recovered for the government. This is intended to both compensate the whistleblower/relator for their efforts as well to encourage the reporting of fraud.  Qui tam is part of the Latin phrase that translates to “he who brings an action for the king as well as for himself”.  Both the government and the whistleblower receive compensation at the end of a successful qui tam lawsuit.

What is a whistleblower?

A whistleblower is someone who reports fraud, corruption, kickbacks, waste or dangers to safety.  A whistleblower may report on a federal contract or bid process, a state contract or bid process, or a private contract or bid process between two private entities or contractors.

The whistleblower may report the fraud to the federal or state agency that regulates the conduct being reported, such as the IRS, Securities and Exchange Commission, or Commodity Futures Trading Commission.  Many qui tam lawsuits involve wrongdoing by physicians, hospital networks, drug and medical device manufacturers, and defense contractors for false claims of health and human services.

How do you become a False Claims Act whistleblower?

In order to become a whistleblower, a person must report wrongdoing involving a federal contract process or contract, a state government contract process or contract, or illegality in a contract between two private companies. Federal law and state law protect whistleblowers in order to encourage their ability to report fraud, waste and abuse without retaliation.

Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky works with federal, state and private whistleblowers, including those who have False Claims to report regarding defense contractor or health service fraud.

Is there a reward for qui tam lawsuits?

Yes. In 2019 the United States awarded False Claim Act whistleblowers with $271 million in rewards for their assistance.

What states have False Claim Acts?

Twenty-nine states have passed variations of a False Claim Act:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Do I qualify as a whistleblower?

If you have knowledge of an unreported misconduct or crime, you can blow the whistle and report the crime.  It does not matter if you are an employee of the company or an ex-employee of the company at the time of reporting.  Indirect knowledge of the fraud can be sufficient as not all whistleblowers will have direct evidence or be witnesses to the scheme.  A subsequent investigation into the alleged misconduct will seek to uncover such evidence.

You do not need to be a United States citizen to be a whistleblower, nor a resident of a State to report on matters of the State.  Anyone can report misconduct or fraud against the government.

Can I receive an award if I was part of the scheme or crime?

Sometimes whistleblowers have knowledge of a fraudulent scheme because they were asked to take part in it or have taken part in it.  Being a party to the scheme does not preclude one from becoming a whistleblower and you can still report the misconduct.

Can I be an anonymous False Claims Act whistleblower?

Yes.  The Dodd-Frank Act and other whistleblower protection laws at the federal and state level provide for confidential reporting of misconduct. Remaining anonymous can help provide protection for a whistleblower to prevent retaliation.  Many cases of misconduct can be reported anonymously.  To see if your potential claim can be reported anonymously, please contact us at 1-800-689-0024 or info@schneiderwallace.com.

Are there protections for False Claims Act whistleblowers?

Yes.  Whistleblower protection laws exist at both the federal and state level to protect whistleblowers against retaliation and add additional penalties to any company that retaliates. These laws are intended to protect whistleblowers from being fired or otherwise mistreated after reporting misconduct.

What do I do to report health services wrongdoing?

An experienced False Claims Act attorney can assist you in reporting wrongdoing and using all the available protections for whistleblowers. Contact Schneider Wallace for a free consultation.  Our experienced attorneys can determine your eligibility for whistleblower protection and compensation, ensure your anonymity, and prosecute your whistleblower claim.

What do I do to report defense contractor wrongdoing?

A qui tam law firm can assist you in reporting defense contractor wrongdoing.  Contact Schneider Wallace to review your whistleblower claim and help determine if you are eligible to be a whistleblower, maintain anonymity, and assist in the proceeding with your claim.

What does it cost to hire a whistleblower attorney?

Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky LLP whistleblower attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee is a fee that is a percentage of a future recovery or award.  If there is no recovery, there is no fee.

Contingency fees allow someone to hire an attorney and know they will not need to pay them a retainer or by the hour and protects them from worrying about the potential costs of the attorney.

I have a False Claims Act claim.  What should I do?

Schneider Wallace represents whistleblowers. Schedule a consult with our whistleblower law firm for representation in jurisdictions throughout the United States. We also have offices in California, Texas, North Carolina and Puerto Rico.

To speak with a lawyer with years of experience handling both government whistleblower and contractor fraud cases, contact us at 1-800-689-0024 or info@schneiderwallace.com.

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