The federal False Claims Act permits a whistleblower or relator to file a qui tam lawsuit against a defendant for defrauding the federal government. The term “qui tam” refers to a Latin phrase, meaning that the person sues on behalf of himself and the government. A relator is the term for a plaintiff filing a qui tam action.
Understanding Qui Tam Actions
Qui tam lawsuits are filed under seal so that the government may conduct its own investigation without the defendant knowing of the filing. If the government joins the lawsuit, the case is unsealed and the government and relator jointly prosecute the case. Interestingly, a qui tam action may only proceed via the first filer. Thus, timing is critical to filing, and a case must be filed within six years of the alleged fraud.
Often, qui tam actions have complicated venue issues and, of course, complexities in understanding the myriad fraud schemes. Due to various factors, these cases often take years and sometimes decades to resolve and may be incredibly expensive. It is therefore critical to engage experienced counsel that has worked closely with United States Attorney Office.
There is some incentive to bring a qui tam case because the relator may receive between 15 and 30 percent of any recovery or settlement. Under the False Claims Act, the government may recover three times the amount of alleged fraud and between $5,500 and $11,000 per false claim submitted to the government.
SEC Whistleblower Claims/Rewards
Legislation passed under the Reform and Consumer Protection Act allows a whistleblower who voluntarily provides information to the SEC that leads to a recovery of $1 million or more, up to 30 percent recovery of the amount collected. Under the statute, a whistleblower is an individual who provides original information relating to a violation of either securities or commodities trading laws that: (1) derive from independent knowledge or analysis, (2) not previously known to the government agency, and (3) not derived from public information.
Successfully Handled High-Profile Cases
Our lawyers have represented some of the most high-profile whistleblowers in Texas and the nation in recent years, including Sherron Watkins, the whistleblower who first brought to light corporate malfeasance at Enron. To learn more about whistleblower claims in Texas and nationwide, please see our Whistleblower FAQ.
Contact Our Experienced Houston Whistleblower Attorneys for Help with Complex Cases
Reporting fraud should be rewarding, not punitive. As a whistleblower, you have rights. Rights that we will protect with dedication and diligence. For more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced lawyer regarding a Qui Tam case, please contact us by email or call us toll-free at 888-659-8742 or locally at 713-234-1416.