Whistleblower/Qui Tam Lawsuits
A Qui Tam/Whistleblower lawsuit is a lawsuit filed by a private citizen (sometimes called a "Whistleblower or "Relator") against a Corporation or Company. The term "Qui Tam" comes from a Latin phrase meaning "he who brings an action for the king as well as himself.”
The action is filed to recover money from the defendant (Corporation or Company) that was received from a state or federal government through theft or fraud.
The private citizen (or “Whistleblower”) brings the “Qui Tam” suit on behalf of the state or federal government for violation of the “False Claims Act” Statute. The Statute was originally passed during the Civil War to counter the rampant fraud in military contracts. Many states have similar laws on the books and the use of the federal and state Qui Tam laws together are effectively used to combat fraud against the government. The False Claims Act protects the Whistleblowers who file Qui Tam lawsuits from being fired, demoted or harassed by their employer.
The Federal False Claims Act prohibits any “person” from “knowingly present[ing], or caus[ing] to be presented, to an officer or employee of the United States Government or a member of the Armed Forces of the United States a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval.” 31 U.S.C. 3729(a)(1). The Act also prohibits a variety of related deceptive practices involving government funds and property.
The False Claims Act allows for Whistleblowers be rewarded with a percentage of the money that the government recovers as a result of their Qui Tam lawsuits. This provision helps encourage people to assist in stopping frauds against the government , such as Medicare fraud.
The State of Florida has a Qui Tam Statute. Under both Florida and Federal False Claims Acts, as well as those of other states, the government may recover up to three times the amount of money it lost as a result of the defendant’s fraud. Many cases will have both a criminal as well as a civil aspect of recovery. Whistleblowers are entitled to share in any civil recovery achieved by the government (not the actual losses) based on the original material information provided by the Whistleblower or Relator.
A number of factors determine how much money compensation a Whistleblower or Relator will receive if the government is able to recover money from the defendant. If the government intervenes in the case, the Whistleblower or Relator may be entitled to receive 15% percent, but not more than 25% of what the government recovers.
If the government declines intervention and the Whistleblower or Relator continues with a suit against the defendant, the whistle-blower is entitled to no less than 25% but not more than 30% of the money the government recovers.
To qualify for a share of the recovery, the Whistleblower or Relator must provide inside information that aids the government in securing a recovery.
The Qui Tam attorneys of The Russo Firm were involved in initiating the first lawsuit in the first Billion Dollar Whistleblower/Qui Tam case ever recorded against pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. The case settled for $1.4 Billion. The Russo Firm is currently investigating several other Whistleblower /Qui Tam cases under seal.
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