For more than 35 years Steve Kardell has guided whistleblowers through qui tam claims authorized by the False Claims Act. This act provides that liability for damages can be tripled. It authorizes a penalty of $5,500 to $11,000 per claim for each false or fraudulent claim submitted to the U.S. government. Furthermore, the False Claims Act establishes the grounds and procedures for a specific type of legal action called qui tam.
Qui tam literally means “he who brings a case on behalf of our lord the King, and for himself.” It allows private citizens, referred to as a relator, to commence legal action on behalf of the federal government. The relator can bring a whistleblower suit when he or she knows that a party has knowingly submitted false claims to the government. False claims can arise from many different sources and transactions, but typically include:
The qui tam process is extremely technical and is detailed in the False Claims Act. To start, a relator must be represented by an attorney — pro se litigation is not permitted. Federal law requires the qui tam complaint to be filed under seal, where it will remain for at least 60 days. Additionally, a disclosure statement must be filed that contains all substantial evidence. The complaint is added to a confidential docket and distributed to only the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and to the assigned U.S. District Court judge. Following the 60-day period, the DOJ must either file a motion showing good cause to keep the complaint under seal or allow the confidentiality to lapse. An investigation, typically coordinated across multiple government agencies, is launched.
At the end of the investigation, the DOJ must select from one of five potential courses of actions. Three are statutorily provided:
Additionally, two more options are generally permitted that are not provided for by the statute:
If the DOJ intends to intervene in the matter, it will file a notice informing all parties of the intervention, including the specific grounds for intervention and unseal the complaint. Once the complaint is unsealed, the attorney’s relator must serve the complaint on defendants within 120 days. Typically, about 60 days following the DOJ’s notice of intervention, the department will file its own complaint based on additional federal statutes and common laws.
The qui tam process is unique in the law and requires an attorney experienced in these matters. Attorney Steve Kardell can prepare you for this stressful and extremely technical process. To discuss the circumstances surrounding your potential qui tam action, please contact us at 214-306-8045 or online .