(Qui Tam/False Claims Act Law)
Whistleblowers are people who come forward to report misconduct or illegal activities by persons or companies. Whistleblowers are often employees of the company they are reporting, especially companies that deal with health care or the military.
The government wants to encourage whistleblowers to expose illegal activity, so there are several statutes in place to protect whistleblowers against employer retaliation. When the illegal activity being reported involves defrauding a government program, the government further incentivizes whistle-blowing by allowing people to file lawsuits on behalf of the government and keep a portion of the damages recovered.
The False Claims Act
Such lawsuits are governed by the False Claims Act, which was passed in 1863 in response to widespread fraud by government contractors during the Civil War. Some of the specific activities prohibited by the False Claims Act include defrauding the government by:
- Knowingly presenting a false claim for payment;
- Knowingly making or using a false record or statement;
- Knowingly failing to deliver money or property;
- Certifying a receipt without completely knowing that the information on it is true;
- Knowingly buying government property from an unauthorized government officer or employee; and
- Knowingly making or using a false record to avoid paying the government, or to decrease an obligation to pay.
The False Claims Act also prohibits conspiring to commit any of these acts.
A person can bring a lawsuit under the False Claims Act without having been personally harmed by the alleged fraud. This is called the “qui tam” provision. “Qui tam” is a shortened version of a Latin phrase that translates roughly to, “He pursues this action as much for our lord the king as for himself.” A person who files a qui tam lawsuit is called a “relator.” The False Claims Act grants relators between 15 and 30 percent of any eventual award or settlement. It also allows you to recover your attorney’s fees.
If you are aware of a person or company defrauding the government, an Evansville whistleblower attorney may be able to advise you on how to proceed. Call Lane Siesky for a free evaluation of your case.