After noticing acts of misconduct or fraud in the workplace, it can feel overwhelming, uncomfortable, and often even scary for some employees. Reporting illegal activities can result in retaliation, wrongful termination, or worse, which is why you will need industry-leading legal support when filing a qui tam claim.
Qui tam claims, better known as whistleblower cases, can be complicated, so you need reliable legal counsel to keep everything in order while the investigation and/or litigation are running their course.
Qui Tam Lawsuits Explained
Literally translated, qui tam means “in the name of the king” and is more commonly called a whistleblower claim. Under the False Claims Act, qui tam cases allow persons or entities with adequate evidence to sue wrongdoers on behalf of the federal government.
Qui tam claims require complex litigation and lengthy investigations to determine if the claim is legitimate. When you want to seek a qui tam lawsuit, you should secure a knowledgeable qui tam attorney to explain everything clearly.
Who Can File a Qui Tam Claim?
According to the False Claims Act (FCA), qui tam action can be taken by any person or entity with legitimate evidence to support claims of fraud or illegal activity against federal programs and contracts. However, if a claim is already filed by the government or another private party using the same evidence, you cannot pursue a qui tam lawsuit.
Common False Claims Act Cases
The False Claims Act allows individuals within an organization to report a company for committing fraud or other illegal activities regarding federally funded programs. The law also enables reporting of individuals committing fraudulent acts against the U.S. government. There are several typical ways entities or individuals violate the False Claims Act, including:
- Overcharging the government
- Seeking fraudulent government contracts
- Submitting false loan applications with the government
- Submitting false grant applications for government funds
- Demanding payment after failing to meet contractual or regulatory requirements with the government
- Requesting payment for defective or low-quality goods or services that fail to fulfill contractual obligations
- Submitting false claims certifying a defendant has complied with laws, contract terms, or regulations
- Attempting to pay back less than what is owed to the government
The most vital component of filing a qui tam lawsuit is evidence. Lacking sufficient evidence to prove wrongdoing at your place of employment or by an individual makes it almost impossible to succeed. Your chosen whistleblower lawyer will know whether or not you have substantial evidence to make a successful qui tam claim and can actively advocate on your behalf.
The Step by Step Process of Making a Qui Tam Claim
When pursuing a qui tam lawsuit, you must understand the process and provide sufficient evidence to make a successful claim. Below, we explain the steps required to report wrongdoing under the False Claims Act:
1. Choose a Lawyer Carefully
Whistleblowing can be a risky business, often requiring employees to put their jobs on the line or face retaliation after the fact. With so much to lose, it’s critical to collect as much information and evidence as possible to support your claim.
Then, contact a trusted qui tam attorney to take careful consideration of your potential whistleblower case. Someone with knowledge and experience in whistleblowing law can leave you feeling safe and reassured after making a report, especially if you experience wrongful termination as well.
2. Come Forward
Once you’ve collected all necessary evidence and make an informed choice of legal counsel, it’s time to come forward with your claim. With a skilled attorney at your side, you should feel safe and secure in your job position after reporting. The False Claims Act provides the following protections and relief for the relator or whistleblower:
- Reinstatement after termination
- Protections from retaliation
- Double back-pay
- Compensation for litigation costs
- Special damages
Dealing with the knowledge of illegal activities is a heavy burden to bear, but you don’t have to be alone in this process. The False Claims Act and your attorney can offer protection during and after whistleblower cases. When you have a claim, you must act quickly to comply with the statutes of limitations on qui tam lawsuits, clarified in this Supreme Court case.
3. File Your Complaint With the Right Court
Both state and federal governments have agencies responsible for regulating fraud and other illegal activities. Your whistleblower attorney will know the correct court to file your legitimate qui tam complaint.
4. Wait for a Government Investigation
If you have a meritorious claim, an investigation into the illegal or fraudulent activities will ensue. After an investigation begins, the case will be sealed until the ultimate findings. Sometimes, government investigations can take months or even years, so it’s best to prepare yourself to be patient as you await the investigation’s outcome. Several factors contribute to the exact length of your case’s investigation, including:
- The case’s complexity
- The government’s current resources
- The evidence and information collected
- The number of defendants named
- Court approval of seal extensions
- Defendant cooperation levels in the investigation
- Pursual of any appeals
Typically, qui tam cases can take anywhere from 1 to 2 years at most. However, there have been several cases where investigations, litigation, and appeals go on for almost a decade. Determine if your qui tam case is legitimate before wasting time, resources and risking your reputation.
5. Unseal the Case and Start Litigation
After it’s determined that you have a meritorious qui tam complaint, the litigation process can commence. Your chosen qui tam attorney will walk you through every step of upcoming litigation, mediation, or court proceedings, so you are prepared in every capacity.
6. Reach a Settlement or Verdict
After court proceedings, mediation, or other forms of litigation end, it’s time to uncover the final verdict or reach a fair settlement. As stated earlier, whistleblower cases are known to drag on over several years, so acquiring a resolution or settlement can take some time.
For the most part, the financial incentives of meritorious qui tam complaints make people come forward. After successful litigation, you’ll likely receive compensation for fees and other damages or expenses faced during the whistleblower investigation and subsequent litigation.
Top-Notch Support When You Need a Whistleblower Attorney
Qui tam cases can be incredibly tricky to handle, so it’s crucial that you have a highly qualified attorney on your side through every step of the process. Reaching a solution on whistleblower cases is more straightforward and safe with a qui tam attorney advocating for you and any other plaintiffs in the process. Contact MJSB Employment Justice today to learn more about how our experienced whistleblower attorneys will offer support through your case’s duration.