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Do you have a Qui Tam Case?

Passed in 1863, the False Claims Act ("FCA"), also known as the "Lincoln Law"--not to be confused with the Lincoln Lawyer, which was a fine movie starring Matthew McConaughey--provides a lucrative incentive for those who blow the whistle on companies who defraud the federal government. See 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-33. What does the FCA prohibit? The FCA (31 U.S.C. §3729) makes it illegal for a company (or individual) who:

(1) knowingly presents to the federal government a false claim for payment or approval;

(2) knowingly makes or uses a false record or statement to get a false claim paid or approved by the government;

(3) conspires to defraud the government by getting a false claim allowed or paid;

(4) has possession or control of property or money used, or to be used, by the government and fraudulently conceals the property, delivers, or causes to be delivered, less property than the amount for which the person receives a certificate or receipt;

(5) authorized to make or deliver a document certifying receipt of property used by the government and defrauds the government by making or delivering the receipt without completely knowing that the information on the receipt is true;

(6) knowingly buys, or receives as a pledge of an obligation or debt, public property from an officer or employee of the government, who lawfully may not sell or pledge the property; or

(7) knowingly makes or uses a false record or statement to conceal, avoid, or decrease an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the government.

Who can bring the claim?  The "qui tam" provision of the FCA (31 U.S.C. § 3730) allows a citizen to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the government against any company or individual who violates the FCA.What can a person recover for bringing a claim? A person who brings a qui tam claim can recover 15% - 30% of the monies recovered on behalf of the government. In the 1980s, qui tam actions against defense contractors were popular. More recently  we've seen more claims for Medicare fraud. As you can probably imagine, such claims can easily run into the millions of dollars.What protection is there for the whistleblower? Qui tam lawsuits are filed under seal, meaning they are confidential, until the claim is resolved by the government or the case is declined by the government, in which case the whistleblower is then given the option to either unseal the complaint and proceed with the case or drop the case and maintain anonymity. See 31 U.S.C. § 3730(b). Also, the FCA prohibits retaliation against qui tam whistleblowers. If a company terminates or retaliates in any way against a whistleblower for making a claim, the employee may recover two times the amount of back pay (lost wages), special damages, attorney's fees and court costs he or she incurs. See 31 U.S.C. 3730(h).What to do if you think you have a qui tam claim. If you think you have a qui tam claim, call a lawyer. Don't assume you can just call the government or file a claim  on your own. One of the keys in these cases is getting the government to step in and take the case after it has been filed by your lawyer under seal. You will also want to talk with a lawyer to discuss what you can do to ensure your job is safe if you are still employed by the company you will be suing. GSF
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