The False Claims Act allows private individuals to file a lawsuit on behalf of the United States in order to recover money that has been taken from the government by fraud. These suits are commonly referred to as qui tam lawsuits. As a reward for uncovering the fraud, the person filing the lawsuit is entitled to share in a portion of whatever money is recovered for the government. The False Claims Act broadly applies to almost any situation where federal dollars are involved. Given the Act’s structure, categories of qui tam cases can cover a variety of fraud.
The False Claims Act has unique procedural requirements that are not widely known to many attorneys. For example, the complaint must provide a written disclosure statement of substantially all material evidence and information that the whistleblower or relator has in his/her possession, and a copy of the complaint and the disclosure must be submitted to the Attorney General of the United States and should be served on the U.S. Attorney for the district in which the action is brought. The complaint must also be filed in camera and under seal. Until the seal is lifted by the court, the complaint and its contents must be kept strictly confidential. During the seal period, the government conducts an investigation to determine whether to intervene in the case.
The False Claims Act does not itself require that a whistleblower hire an attorney. However, several courts have ruled that litigants cannot prosecute a qui tam action on their own since they would be acting as an attorney for the government. Additionally, a crucial aspect of any False Claims Act case is presenting the whistleblower’s story to the government, and putting it in the best light possible. Experienced qui tam attorneys are familiar with what aspects of a case will make it attractive to the United States. False Claims cases often take years to prosecute and investigate — a good whistleblower attorney or law firm should have the resources to invest time and money to your case.
If you believe you may have a False Claims Act case, we will be happy to evaluate your claim at no cost to you. Click here to contact us.