WHAT IS THE FALSE CLAIMS ACT?
This video by the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund explains it better than we ever could (we are much better lawyers than artists). Julie and Jason are both longtime members of this non-profit organization dedicated to combating fraud against the government and advancing public and government support for whistleblower cases.
The False Claims Act is a unique and specialized area of the law. The FAQs below address common questions and the usual answers, but in reality, these cases vary enormously from one to the next.
What does qui tam mean and how do you pronounce it?
Qui tam is short for a Latin phrase, "Qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur," which translates as "He who sues on behalf of the King, as well as for himself." Qui tam started in England, where in certain instances, the people were empowered to sue on behalf of the crown and receive a bounty for the recovery.
Of course, “qui tam” may be a short form, but for only six letters it gets pronounced all sorts of ways. For you trivia buffs, the "correct" pronunciation is the Latin one - kwee tam - rather than the "kee-tam" we tend to use if we are accustomed to Spanish or French. As for that "a", its the same sound as in "father," — so now you know!
What actions are violations under the False Claims Act?
At its most basic, a False Claims Act case is one in which someone (or some company) is:
- lying to get government money
- lying to get more government money than they otherwise would
- lying to keep government money they are not entitled to
- helping someone else to do one of those things (such as creating false paperwork)
- retaliating against someone who is trying to stop one of these things
Of course, once you involve lawyers, things get much more complicated. "What exactly is lying?" and "What exactly is government money?" are just two of the questions to be faced in each individual case. But each case will have something to do with the nuggets in this list.
The FCA is a complex statute - not one that can easily be picked up just from a casual (or even detailed) review of the statute itself. Don't fall into the trap of launching your case without an expert on your side. Bracker & Marcus LLC is ready to assist you, starting with evaluating whether your situation needs to be brought to the attention of the Government, and if so, how. If you are aware of issues surrounding the use of government money, contact us.
What's the Statute of Limitations for filing a Qui Tam / False Claims Act lawsuit?
That all depends, of course!
For the federal False Claims Act, the statute of limitations depends, among other things, on when the fraud was committed, whether the fraud is ongoing in nature, and when the government learns about the fraud. Very generally speaking, a claim must be brought within six years of the fraud.
If you have been retaliated against, you may have up to three years to seek court assistance under the federal False Claims Act.
The various state False Claims Acts have different statutes of limitations, ranging from months to years. State False Claims Acts also have their own retaliation provisions that vary in length of time.
Please call Bracker & Marcus LLC for a free assessment tailored to the facts of your situation. We represent whistleblowers all across the country and will be able to help you figure out if your claim is time-barred.
Who can file a Qui Tam/ False Claims Act lawsuit?
A case under the federal False Claims Act can be brought by anyone who has knowledge of the fraud that is occurring. However, because you would be suing on behalf of the Government, most courts require you to have legal counsel. If you attempt to file a case without an attorney, it will most likely be dismissed.
That is just one of the many unusual rules specific to the False Claims Act. You must also keep in mind the FCA's "first-to-file" rule, the "public disclosure" bar (and its "original source" exception), the seal, the requirements of Rule 9(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, all of which can impact your case. Even the finest lawyers, if they lack FCA experience, may fall victim to its peculiarities--which is why they consult with us. Whether you are a potential whistleblower or a lawyer in need of expert consultation, Bracker & Marcus LLC is ready to assist you with understanding these complex requirements and make sure you have the best possible representation before the Government and the Court.
Will I pay attorney fees to bring my False Claims Act Case?
While the answer to that question varies from firm to firm and case to case, the general answer is NO. Qui tam firms - including Bracker & Marcus LLC - generally operate on a "contingency" basis, meaning they only get paid if you win. Successful prosecution of a False Claims Act case should result in payment of fees from the defendant and from your judgment. As a result, lawyers with knowledge and experience in the False Claims Act are unlikely to charge you an hourly rate or for an initial consultation. Rather than pay a consultation fee or an hourly rate, please contact Bracker & Marcus today for a free, confidential evaluation.
What awards are offered under the False Claims Act?
When we file your case, the Government will begin its investigation of your claims. At the end of its investigation, the Government will decide whether it wants to "intervene" in your case, meaning that it will pursue some or all of your claims. Nationally, fewer than one-fifth of all False Claims Act cases are intervened. Remember, your case is about someone cheating the Government, so it is up to The Government whether it wants to go get its money back. If the Government does intervene, and then wins or settles the case, then you are entitled to between 15% and 25% of what the Government is able to recover.
If the Government does not intervene, we have the option to litigate your case on the Government's behalf. If we win or settle the case without the Government having intervened, you are entitled to between 25% and 30% of what we are able to recover.
Lastly, if you have a retaliation claim, you may receive a judgment or settlement under that claim as well. Because that is your personal claim, and not Government money, the Government does not receive any portion of it.
What else do you do besides the False Claims Act?
Glad you asked! Although the False Claims Act is our specialty, Bracker & Marcus LLC offers representation in all manners of whistleblower / qui tam cases, including:
- IRS Whistleblowers (tax cheats)
- SEC Whistleblowers (financial reporting fraud, like Bernie Madoff)
- CFTC Whistleblowers (violations of the Commodity Exchange Act)
The rules, and awards, are different for each of these Acts, so contact us if you think you have a case.
How do I know if I have a case?
That's where we come in! We offer a free evaluation.