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What is a Qui Tam Lawsuit?

There are times when a person or a company decides they want to make a little extra money. If they happen to have a contract with the government, they feel that they can sometimes get away with cutting corners and otherwise defrauding the government. Those who do so are putting themselves at risk of having another citizen turn them in and bring a lawsuit against them on behalf of the government.

The Federal False Claims Act

Back in the 1800’s Abraham Lincoln was the president and the country was in the middle of a civil war. This war was causing strain on merchants and vendors to supply arms and provisions to both sides of the fight. Just as there are unscrupulous businessmen around today, there were back then as well.

Some of those poor businessmen were selling provisions that were not up-to-par with what the government ordered. For instance they would sell food provisions that were already spoiled, or boxes of ammunition that contained nothing but sawdust, or perhaps horses that were near death, but advertised as though they were young and healthy. Combating this fraud took some unique thinking.

Lincoln signed into law the Federal False Claims Act, often called the Lincoln Law, to help stop this fraud. The law contained a Qui Tam clause. Basically put that meant that any individual could bring a lawsuit against the offending party on behalf of the government. Since men are greedy and selfish, there was an inclusion in the law that said they could collect a percentage of the settlement for blowing the whistle.

Changes in Qui Tam over the Years

When the law first began there was a flat reward set. However, we know that inflation changes the value of the dollar, and a reward of a few thousand dollars was huge back then; but not today. Instead along the way the reward was changed to a percentage of the final settlement. This meant that fraud that ran deeper, and was costing the government more money, would be rewarded higher for the whistle blowers hard work.

The law has been changed a number of times over the years; at some points almost eliminating the reward (which saw a huge drop in those willing to blow the whistle). Currently it stands that the reward for turning in someone trying to defraud the government is around 10-25% of the final settlement.

Contact a Qui Tam Attorney

If you work for a company that deals with government contracts, whether they be department of defense, contractors building federal buildings, pharmaceutical companies, Medicare/Medicaid, or the like, and you have seen the company cutting corners to try to make more money, you can file a Qui Tam lawsuit. Contact a Qui Tam attorney today to schedule your free consultation.

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