Who Can File a Qui Tam Lawsuit?
Any person or organization with knowledge of fraud or any improper charge, expense or claim made against federal government funds can bring a Qui Tam suit under the Federal False Claims Act (FCA). The party bringing the claim is called a relator. The Federal False Claims Act does not define exactly who can bring a Qui Tam lawsuit against a company or organization. It only asks that these persons have sufficient information in the form of documentation about the fraud involved. As long as a person has knowledge of fraud that is sufficient to form the basis of a case, he or she may be eligible to file a Qui Tam, or whistleblower, lawsuit.
Qui Tam litigation typically involves employees of companies that are engaged in fraud against the government. This could include both current and past employees of the company. In such cases, employees may have tried other means to stop the fraud or bring it to the attention of higher-ups at the company. These attempts may have failed, and as a last resort, employees choose to blow the whistle and bring a Qui Tam lawsuit against the company. A majority of False Claims Act lawsuits are filed by employee whistleblowers with inside information.
Qui Tam lawsuits can also be filed by competitors. Competitors are often indirect victims of fraud or other improper conduct against the government, because if the competitor is honest, it is placed at a competitive disadvantage to those willing to commit fraud against the government. Competitors may also have access to knowledge about spurious or illegal practices employed by other companies. Companies who are competitors to the perpetrators of fraud can file a Qui Tam lawsuit on behalf of the government and recover defrauded funds.
In addition, many Qui Tam lawsuits are filed by public interest groups. A vibrant public safety culture in the United States has empowered organizations dedicated to specific interests, and these entities may be eligible to file Qui Tam lawsuits when they find evidence of fraud against the government. In addition to public interest groups and organizations, private corporations can also file lawsuits under whistleblower law.
Finally, the amendments made to the Federal False Claims Act in 1986 have also empowered state and local governments to pursue whistleblower lawsuits against unscrupulous Medicare and Medicaid and other healthcare providers and contractors.