Qui tam lawsuits – also known as whistleblower lawsuits – involve allegations of fraud against federal or state government agencies. Federal whistleblower lawsuits are filed under a federal law known as the False Claims Act, while state-level actions are filed under similar laws in the state where the fraud is alleged to have occurred.
When an individual has witnessed fraud against a federal or state agency, they can file a lawsuit against the perpetrator of the fraud on behalf of the government. If the government is successful in collecting damages against the party that committed fraud, the individual who filed the lawsuit is entitled to collect a portion of the damages recovered by the government.
Anyone who has been the witness to fraud against the government can file a qui tam lawsuit. Oftentimes, these whistleblower claims are filed by employees or contractors employed by the company or group that is fraudulently misappropriating government funds.
In qui tam cases, the whistleblower who files a lawsuit on behalf of the government does not have to have been personally harmed. The only qualification to file a qui tam lawsuit is to have witnessed false or fraudulent conduct against a state or federal agency.
Common Types of Qui Tam Whistleblower Claims
One of the most common areas of qui tam claims are lawsuits involving Medicare or Medicaid fraud. Because the government relies upon Medicare and Medicaid contractors to fairly bill these programs, there is always the risk that doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers will give in to the temptation to try and obtain extra funds from federal or state medical programs to through excessive billing practices. Many qui tam lawsuits involving false Medicare or Medicaid claims are filed by doctors, nurses, laboratory workers, or other medical staff members who have witnessed fraudulent billing practices.
Gas and oil royalties are another area where many whistleblower lawsuits are filed. When petroleum companies are allowed to drill on federal land, the government receives a royalty on any oil and gas obtained from this drilling. Because these revenues are so substantial (more than half of all revenue collected by the government for drilling on federal lands), some companies may be tempted to fraudulently withhold royalties they are obligated to pay to the federal government. Oil, gas, and fracking workers who witness the falsifying of records, bribes, or violations of federal contracts in order to withhold oil and gas royalties may be entitled to file a whistleblower lawsuits.
Many qui tam claims are also filed against government vendors and contractors. Because federal and state governments rely on many outside companies to supply them with goods and services, some of these providers may try to defraud the government by overcharging for their products or services, charging government agencies for services that were not actually performed, or recommending unnecessary services. Employees of outside vendors or contractors who witness fraudulent actions such as these may qualify to file a qui tam claim.
The Internal Revenue Service has its own version of the False Claims Act known as the Whistleblower Act. Just like with the False Claims Act, any individual who witnesses tax evasion by a company or individual can file a qui tam lawsuit under the Whistleblower Act and receive a portion of the damages recovered by the IRS.
Find out if you qualify to file a whistleblower lawsuit
If you have witness fraud against federal or state agencies, you may be eligible to blow the whistle by filing a qui tam lawsuit. The first step in taking action is to speak with an attorney to advise you whether you qualify to file a lawsuit under the False Claims Act or other whistleblower laws.
The law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson has experience handling whistleblower claims. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to ensure that whistleblowers receive the highest possible compensation for pursuing fraud allegations involving government agencies. Heygood, Orr & Pearson has also handled hundreds of intellectual property and commercial litigation cases, including patent matters, claims for trademark infringement, and patent rights interference.
For more information about qui tam lawsuits and to learn more about whether you may be eligible to file a claim, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free whistleblower case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions to get started.