Qui Tam / False Claims
California Qui Tam Lawyer – What is a Qui Tam Case?
The False Claims Act (31 U.S.C.§§ 3729–3733) is an American federal law that imposes liability on persons and/or companies (typically federal contractors) who defraud governmental programs. Claims under the law have typically involved health care, military, or other government spending programs. The government has recovered nearly $22 billion under the False Claims Act between 1986 and 2008 alone, notes San Francisco qui tam law firm Evans Law. In a recent Illinois case, jurors delivered a $29 million verdict against an Illinois nursing home after agreeing with whistleblower nurses accusing their employer of defrauding Medicare by allowing patients to wallow in filth and go without medications.
If you are an employee witnessing your employer defrauding the government, you may have a false claims claim on behalf of the government and should contact one of our San Francisco qui tam lawyers immediately. The False Claims Act includes a “qui tam” provision that allows people who are not affiliated with the government, also known as relators, informally known as “whistleblowers,” to file actions on behalf of the government, who would be the real plaintiff. Despite the negative connotation of the name “whistleblower,” without these people massive amounts of fraud against our government would go undetected.
Why Would Someone Participate in a False Claims Case?
People should not be afraid to report qui tam cases for many reasons. First, The False Claims Act prohibits any and imposes strict penalties on action taken by an employer which has a negative effect on the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. This includes termination, demotion, suspension, harassment and any other act that would dissuade a reasonable person from reporting violations of the False Claims Act, even an act of retaliation against an individual associated with the whistleblower. In other words, those with knowledge that their employer is defrauding the government should not be afraid to report such fraud, as the law protects those with such information. Second, if the government intervenes in the case and recovers funds through a settlement or a trial, the whistleblower, or “relator,” is entitled to 15 percent to 25 percent of the recovery. If the government doesn’t intervene in a qui tam case and it is pursued by the whistleblower team, the whistleblower reward is between 25 and 30 percent of the recovery. Furthermore, a whistleblower may be able to recover compensation for damages as the result of discrimination, called the realtor’s share, in a false claims whistleblower retaliation case.
Employees Signing A Severance Agreement Should Exercise Caution Because You Could Be Waiving Or Releasing Your Right To Bring A False Claim, Whistleblower or Qui Tam Lawsuit
If you are terminated and your employer asks you to sign a severance agreement, what exactly are you giving up? Severance agreements typically contain broad releases, in which you waive your rights to bring a claim or lawsuit against your employer. Exactly what this can mean may surprise you.
If you know that your employer defrauded the government—i.e. deliberately deceiving the government, which causes it to spend money it shouldn’t have—federal law allows you to bring suit against your employer on behalf of the government in what is called a qui tam action. The law, known as the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq., allows the government to recover money it was tricked into spending, and it is designed to encourage people to come forward by allowing them to keep a portion of any money recovered in the case. The incentive is significant; according to the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund, over $21 billion was recovered between 1987 and 2008, and of that, over $2 billion went to those who blew the whistle.
But can signing a release with your employer prevent you from blowing the whistle on your employer for defrauding the government? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. If you waive your right to bring suit against your employer, you may be unable to bring claims to remedy wrongs done to others as well. This means that by signing a release, you may be giving up your right to stop your employer from defrauding the government in a qui tam action. As you can see, there are serious consequences to signing a severance agreement and waiving your rights. Consult with a California qui tam lawyer before signing a release to help avoid situations like this.