What Is a Qui Tam Action?

Qui tam actions, with a name derived from a Latin phrase meaning "he who sues for the king as well as for himself," serve as a powerful tool in combatting fraud against the government. These legal claims, often initiated by whistleblowers, play a crucial role in holding wrongdoers accountable and recovering taxpayer funds lost to fraudulent activities.  

qui tam action is a type of civil lawsuit filed by a private individual, known as a relator or whistleblower. The case is brought on behalf of the government, usually under the federal False Claims Act (FCA) or a similar state statute. As the complaint seeks to order the defendant to pay damages or penalties to the government entity affected by the fraud, the qui tam whistleblower is entitled to receive a percentage of that recovery. 

Many of these lawsuits allege that the defendant knowingly submitted false or fraudulent claims to the government, resulting in financial loss or harm to the government entity. Accordingly, qui tam actions are most common within industries that rely heavily on government payments and contracts. For example, workers in the healthcare field frequently report false Medicare and Medicaid claims field by their employers. Procurement fraud and financial fraud also give rise to numerous qui tam lawsuits. 

To start the legal process, the relator in a qui tam action files a complaint under seal in federal district court. The complaint must contain detailed allegations of the fraudulent conduct, supported by credible evidence or insider knowledge of the wrongdoing. Upon receiving the whistleblower's complaint, the government has the option to intervene in the case and assume primary responsibility for litigating the claim. If the government declines to intervene, the relator may proceed with the lawsuit independently, with the government having the option to monitor the proceedings. While each matter is adjudicated on its own merits, a successful qui tam action typically results in a payment to the whistleblower equaling between 15 and 30 percent of the government’s total recovery.   

Qui tam actions serve as a powerful mechanism for combating fraud against the government and protecting taxpayer funds. By empowering whistleblowers to expose fraudulent conduct and seek redress on behalf of the government, qui tam whistleblowers play a vital role in promoting transparency, accountability and integrity in public contracts and programs. Kardell Law Group is dedicated to giving these individuals the legal support they need to succeed in their lawsuits and secure the payment they deserve for their efforts.