Qui tam, according to the Qui Tam Information Center, is a provision of the Federal Civil False Claims Act (1863) that allows private citizens to file a lawsuit loan in the name of the United States government. These claims allege fraud by government contractors and/or others who either received or abused government funds, and allows those private citizens to share in the monies recovered.
Qui Tam is a term that is used in Law to connote whistleblower protection laws. The protection provided is for those individuals who notify the government of their suspicions of fraud and/or abuse. The term’s origin is from the Latin expression “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipse.” The phrase literally asserts “he who sues the king as for himself.”
Such actions frequently occur in situations in which employees report fraud and or/abuse in which their employers have engaged. The federal law, out of which the concept of whistle-blower emerged, the False Claims Act (1863, revised’86), was intended to combat fraud during the Civil War in which suppliers to the federal government engaged. As a result of the benefits the government derives from these actions, individuals who bring such actions may receive a percentage of either any money recovered or damages identified in the fraud exposed.
Private citizens generally file such actions on behalf of the government. The purpose of which is to prevent fraud and abuse. To assist the individual who brings such an action with expenses incurred during the process of litigation, a settlement loan may be required.
Individuals who bring such suits are also called relators. When such cases are filed, the relator need not have been personally harmed by the defendant’s conduct. Additionally, the False Claims Act allows the relator to recover 15-30% of any settlement amount. Furthermore, the statute provides for payment of attorney’s fees. (Attorneys are required to bring such lawsuits, due to the fact that these cases are brought on behalf of the government and may only be prosecuted by an attorney.)
By providing private citizens both the knowledge and resources needed to combat such egregious acts, the act can be a very active tool. It is an unfortunate reality, however, that individuals who are sufficiently courageous to bring such actions are often subjected to a great deal of persecution in the workplace. It is important to realize that such individuals should be commended for their willingness to speak out against such fraud and abuse, and admired for taking actions that many citizens simply would not.
Unlike customary claims, these are actions that the government may elect to pursue against the entities identified. If this is a situation, the relator who initially brings the action to the government’s attention would undoubtedly serve as a great resource for the government and the prosecution, but would not dare the legal expenses incurred with bringing such an action. The lawsuit loan may not be appropriate in such cases.
However, if the government elects not to prosecute the case, individual bringing the situation to the government’s attention may still be able to pursue a claim against the abusers, if that is the case, a lawsuit loan is often required to assist the individual in handling the legal expenses incurred.
Additionally, it is important to bear in mind that many expenses may also arise when such claims are filed. Although the whistle-blower does have protection under the law from wrongful termination, etc., in many of these situations the pursuit of such actions drastically drains plaintiffs of resources.
Congress enacted this law in order to effectively identify and prosecute government waste and abuse, and to address issues related to fraudulent activity in which government-related entities may be involved. The issue of whether a lawsuit loan would be required in such instances involves an investigation of myriad factors. While awaiting the government’s decision and action, the individual filing such a claim continues to have expenses, not to mention impediments that often occur with employment.
Under the Act, whistle-blowers also receive protection from wrongful termination. Additionally, the Act allows for reinstatement with seniority, double back pay, interest on back pay, compensation for discriminatory treatment, and reasonable legal expenses. Once again, it is the delay between the date on which the wrongful termination occurred and the date on which reinstatement is achieved that creates a tremendous financial burden on the claimant. It is during this interval that a lawsuit loan may be required.
To bar reprisals against those who expose government fraud and abuse, Congress adopted this legislation in’78. Unfortunately, due to the widespread harassment and wrongful termination of employees who reported such fraud and abuse against their employers, it was necessary for Congress to strengthen its position to protect whistleblowers in’89. Following the enhanced protection, many states have adopted specific employment laws addressing the issue of discrimination against such employees.
As your expenses mount, will often find it necessary to obtain a lawsuit loan to obtain relief from your ongoing financial burden. If such a time it does arrive, make certain that you review your options very carefully to obtain settlement funding appropriate for your needs.