False Claims Act Attorney in Louisville, Kentucky
Long ago, average citizens could use the common law to ask a court for a Writ of Qui Tam. This was a legal means to sue someone who had cheated the government (in those days, the king) and win economic damages for oneself and the king. The phrase “qui tam” is shortened from the Latin phrase “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur,” meaning he “who sues in this matter for the king as well as for himself.”
Today, we have no king and no qui tam writs. Instead, the federal False Claims Act (FCA) allows individuals to bring a lawsuit against those who have defrauded or taken advantage of the government. The person reporting the fraud—often referred to as the relator, or whistleblower— does not directly sue for themselves, but stands to recover 15 to 30 percent of the money recovered by the government.
Individuals or groups of people sometimes uncover fraud or false claims against the government of the United States. If so, contact me at Chris Sanders Law PLLC. I can help you investigate the allegations, and perhaps file a class action lawsuit if warranted. At the end of the day, I am dedicated to working with others for the betterment of our communities, our places of work, and our government.
What Is a Qui Tam Lawsuit?
A qui tam lawsuit, in modern parlance, refers to a civil action brought by an individual or a group under the whistleblower or relator provision of the False Claims Act. Often, a relator is someone close to the situation, perhaps an employee or associate, who sees the wrongdoing and feels it needs to be reported and those responsible held accountable.
If the federal government does not sue an individual or group on its own for fraud or false claims, then private citizens may do so, but the government then has 60 days to take over the lawsuit or join in it under terms of its choosing. If the private lawsuit is allowed to go forward, the “share” of the settlement or court judgment going to the whistleblower(s) is capped at 30 percent.
Types of Government Fraud
In its report for FY 2021, the DOJ listed healthcare abuse as the largest component of false claims and fraud against the government. Other sources of fraud and false claims included abuse of government contracts, COVID-19 relief funds, oil and gas leases, educational programs and funding, cyber fraud, and more.
Violations Under the False Claims Act
The False Claims Act, whose enforcement was strengthened by a series of amendments added in 1986, identifies seven acts that are considered violations of the FCA:
False claims: Making a false claim to the government for payment or approval of some program or benefit
False records or statements: Submitting false or fabricated records or making false statements in support of a claim
Conspiracy: Conspiring with others to violate the FCA
Conversion: Failing to return government property
False receipts: Delivering a certified receipt of government property with intent to defraud
Unlawful Purchase of Government Property: Buying something from a government employee who is not authorized to sell it
Reverse False Claims: Concealing or improperly avoiding or decreasing an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the U.S.
The False Claims Act, in its original form, dates to the time of the Civil War and the administration of Abraham Lincoln, which found government contractors defrauding the government over supplies contracted for support of the war effort. Amendments were added to strengthen enforcement in the 1980s, and the law itself was completely reaffirmed in 2009 with amendments in place.
Protections for Relators or Whistleblowers
If an employee, or employees, of a company report fraud or other abuse under the qui tam provision of the FCA, or under any other government act, retaliation by the employer is forbidden. Retaliation can take many forms. These forms include demotion, termination, denial of benefits, exclusion from promotional opportunities, isolation in the workplace, and harassment and discrimination in any form. Those who participate in a qui tam investigation are also protected.
False Claims Act Attorney Serving Louisville, KY
If you suspect fraud or abuse at your place of work—or even in a non-work environment where you voluntarily participate, such as in a civic or community organization—contact me immediately at Chris Sanders Law PLLC. My office is in Louisville, Kentucky, but I have helped clients with their causes wherever they are located in the United States, not only through legal consultation and representation but also through organizational and promotional efforts. If you suspect wrongdoing and abuse of government programs, let’s do something about it together.