Understanding Qui Tam Lawsuits

The term “qui tam” is an abbreviation of an old Latin saying that means, “”[he] who sues in this matter for the king as well as for himself.” In layman’s terms, it refers to an old common law practice whereby a citizen who aided in some form of prosecution could receive a share of whatever penalty was imposed.

In modern context in the United States, qui tam is a form of civil lawsuit that can be filed under the False Claims Act (FCA). The FCA was passed in 1863 and has only been amended twice since then. It’s purpose is to protect the federal government and its programs from being defrauded.

The qui tam provision of the FCA lays out protections for private citizens who aid the government in uncovering fraudulent activity that has been committed by their employers against the government. The law refers to these people as “realtors,” but they are more commonly known as “whistleblowers.”

Qui tam provides incentive for private citizens to help uncover fraud against things like Medicare or Medicaid, against the military, and other federal programs. A qui tam lawsuit can be brought to civil court by a private citizen on behalf of the government if their whistleblowing actions led to the government recovering funds from their employer that were lost due to fraud. The whistleblower is entitled to a reward for their actions in the form of a share of the recovered funds.

Furthermore, since whistleblowers are generally taking a major personal risk by turning in their employers, the FCA guarantees them job protections, meaning an employee cannot be fired for uncovering and turning in an employer’s illicit activity. Qui tam provides a very powerful tool to the government in combatting federal fraud, and a very good reason for employees to not look the other way if they have knowledge of an employer’s fraudulent activities.

Bringing action against your employer under the False Claims Act, and in turn attempting to profit from a qui tam civil suit, can be both risky and complicated. If you have uncovered evidence that your employer is committing fraud against the US government, it is imperative that you consult with an attorney who is experienced in employment law. Call the Amsberry Law Firm to discuss what steps you need to take to move forward while also ensuring you are personally protected.

Written by Amsberry Law Firm

Amsberry Law Firm

Mr. Amsberry is board-certified in family and labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also active in family law, estate and elder law, and business law. He is a proven litigator who has argued before the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and earned favorable outcomes in complex, precedent-setting employment and civil rights cases. He served as a reservist assistant judge advocate general in the U.S. Army and is a sought-after lecturer and speaker on a range of legal issues.