Qui tam is a term that refers to civil lawsuits that can be brought by whistleblowers on behalf of the government against a person, company or entity that is accused of defrauding the government. A Fort Lauderdale whistleblower attorney can assist a whistleblower in filing a claim under either the Federal False Claims Act or the Florida False Claims Act.
A Fort Lauderdale whistleblower attorney may define a whistleblower as one who reveals wrongdoing within an organization to the public or one in authority. For purposes of qui tam lawsuits, the wrongdoer is perpetuating some fraud on the government that results in an overpayment for services or payment for services never received. Examples include Medicare fraud, Medicaid fraud, and defense contractor fraud among many others. The plaintiff in a qui tam lawsuit is referred to as the relator.
Under both the federal and state False Claim Acts, the relator may be eligible for a reward based on the outcome of the qui tam lawsuit. If the defendant is found liable, they may have to pay three times the government’s losses plus penalties for each false claim. The relator may receive between 15 and 30 percent of the recovery as a reward. A major factor in determining how much the relator will receive is the quality of the case as presented by the relator’s Fort Lauderdale whistleblower lawyer.
A qui tam lawsuit is first filed; it is done so under seal. This means the entire record of the proceedings is private until the court lifts the seal. Even the entity who the relator’s Fort Lauderdale whistleblower lawyer (KW2) named as defendant is not notified. Based on what the government uncovers, it may or may not intervene in the case. Although few cases are joined by the government, their intervention makes the case much stronger. Government investigations can take years to complete.
Public Disclosure and Original Source
If a qui tam lawsuit is based on facts or information that has been previously publicly disclosed, the relator is barred from collecting any percentage of the recovery as a reward. One exception is if the relator is considered the original source. An original source is one who has direct and independent knowledge of the information and provides it to the government before filing a lawsuit.
The False Claim Act affords strong protections not only to the whistleblower but also to anyone who initiates, investigates, testifies or otherwise assists in the case. Any employee who is retaliated against may be entitled to reinstatement to the same status, two times back pay, interest on back pay and compensation for any special damages.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Whistleblower Attorney for Legal Advice
If you believe you have a whistleblower claim and are contemplating whether or not to file a case, your choice of legal counsel is extremely important. Be certain you have a complete understanding of the process. Call Mark J. Berkowitz, P.A., a Fort Lauderdale whistleblower attorney, at (954) 527-0570.