The Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos, P.C., in Maryland, represents individuals in bringing claims against companies and organizations that have violated the law by defrauding the government. These lawsuits—qui tam actions—are outlined in the United States False Claims Act, and allow a private citizen, having knowledge of corporate wrongdoings, the opportunity to be a whistleblower and report the illegal activity.
What is the False Claims Act?
The False Claims Act imposes liability on any individual or organization for illegally avoiding payments to, or illegally receiving payments from the federal government. Under the Act, citizens with knowledge of fraudulent activity are encouraged to file a Complaint against the entity on behalf of the United States Government. These individuals are often known as whistleblowers.
What is Qui Tam?
Qui tam is a provision established under the False Claims Act, in which individuals with knowledge of a company’s fraudulent activity—also known as relators—may file suit against those entities. However, the relator filing the complaint generally has not been harmed by the activity of the entity, but is making the complaint on behalf of the government.
After the lawsuit has been filed, a governmental investigation will take place, and government officials will decide whether to intervene. When the government decides to intervene, the government becomes the plaintiff in the case, and the relator will be entitled to a percentage of any recovery.
How to File a Qui Tam Case?
A relator or their attorney may file claims with the Department of Justice or the Attorney General. The government will then have 60 days to investigate the complaint. Often, an investigation may take more time, and the Department of Justice will request an extension. Qui tam claims are filed “under seal”, meaning that the investigation will remain private to all except for the government itself, including the accused company or organization.
Once an investigation is complete, the Department of Justice will decide if there is sufficient evidence to support the allegations. If so, the government may join the case as plaintiff in the lawsuit. Generally, this happens when there is significant fraudulent or criminal activity. The case will then proceed to court and be resolved either by a jury or through settlement proceedings.
If the government decides not to assume a role in the case, the relator may decide whether or not to continue individually.
What is the Reward in a Qui Tam Case?
If the government decides to pursue a lawsuit against the defendant, and the suit is successful, a relator is entitled to a monetary award from the recovery of the lawsuit. Depending on various factors, including the quality of the case and the involvement of the relator’s attorney in assisting the government, this reward can range from 15 to 25 percent of the recovery. A defendant in such cases may be liable to pay up to three times the government’s losses, in addition to penalties for their actions.
Why Do Whistleblowers Need Attorneys?
It is essential to have experienced counsel on your side when filing qui tam claims. False Claims Act litigation is often complex and expensive, as large companies and organizations have substantial funding for protecting their interests in the event of lawsuits. Further, if the government decides to join your case, having an attorney who is able to assist the government in achieving success will benefit you in terms of receiving a reward.
Contact the qui tam attorneys at the Law Offices of Peter Angelos, P.C. for a free evaluation of your claims.