False Claims Act & Qui Tam Litigation Attorneys in Minneapolis
If you know about fraud, waste, or abuse of taxpayer dollars, you may be able to do something about it. A qui tam lawsuit is an action brought by whistleblowers on behalf of the government against an individual or business that is defrauding the government. Successful whistleblowers may be able to share in the government’s recovery. The most common type of qui tam action is brought under the Federal False Claims Act. Many states, including Minnesota and California, have state law equivalents to the False Claims Act (FCA).
“Blowing the whistle” can be complex and confusing, as it often implicates many different statutes and regulatory requirements and is subject to many procedural rules. If you are aware of fraud against the government and are interested in taking legal action, our attorneys may be able to help you navigate the process.
Contact us for a confidential review of the situation.
What is the False Claims Act?
Lawsuits brought by private citizens on behalf of the federal, state, or local government are called "qui tam" lawsuits. A whistleblower who brings a lawsuit on behalf of the government is called a “relator.” Qui tam actions often involve allegations of fraud by government contractors and/or participants in government programs.
Depending on which laws are being violated, most qui tam actions are brought under the federal False Claims Act, and/or similar state or local laws. The False Claims Act creates liability to the United States in part for "any person who knowingly presents . . . a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval [or] knowingly makes . . . a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim." 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1).
A False Claims Act lawsuit must be filed with the court in secret, or “under seal.” While the case is under seal, the government investigates the relator’s allegations. It is important to a relator’s potential recovery that the matter be kept confidential during this time. One of our lawyers may be able to advise you on these public disclosure rules.
An investigation can last a few months, or several years. During this time, the relator provides information to the government through disclosures, document exchanges, and interviews. It is helpful to have knowledgeable attorneys to guide relators through this investigatory process. Once the government concludes its investigation, it then decides whether to join the relator in litigating the case, or whether to decline to intervene. If the government declines, the relator then has a choice: Voluntarily dismiss the action or proceed to litigate the case in court on the government’s behalf. The decision of whether to continue litigating is an important one and involves consideration of many complex issues. Nichols Kaster, PLLP’s attorneys can help relators navigate these important decisions.
The False Claims Act provides relators with an incentive to blow the whistle. A defendant that is found to have committed fraud against the United States government is liable for triple damages (three times the amount of damages the government sustained because of the fraudulent act), civil penalties, and attorneys’ fees and costs. The relator can recover 15-30% of the amount recouped by the government.
The False Claims Act also contains an anti-retaliation provision prohibiting a defendant from discharging, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing, or in any other manner discriminating against an individual because they assisted with a False Claims Act investigation or action. If you have knowledge of fraud against the government, contact our attorneys to discuss your options.
Examples of Potential False Claims Act Violations
Fraud against the government can occur in many different industries.
The following are examples of the types of fraud that may implicate the False Claims Act:
Healthcare fraud enforcement restores funds to programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE.
Examples of healthcare fraud may include:
Providing kickbacks to physicians in exchange for referrals in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute
Self-dealing in violation of the Stark Law
False, inflated, or bundled billing or coding for healthcare services.
Defense/Military Contractor Fraud
Examples of ways contractors may try to defraud or deceive the government include:
Failure to comply with contract terms
Schools, including for-profit schools, may face FCA liability by making false promises in order to receive federal funds or by failing to comply with the Higher Education Act.
Liability may arise for things like:
Inflated job placement and graduation rates
Unlawfully paying bonuses to staff to increase student enrollment
These examples are for illustration purposes only. This is not an exhaustive list. It is important to discuss the specific facts of your situation with an experienced attorney to determine what claims you may have.
Contact us online or call (877) 344-4628 for more information.
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