Mississippi Qui Tam Lawyer Discusses The False Claims Act and Whistleblowers

A whistleblower is a person who exposes his or her employer of engaging in conduct that is illegal or harmful to the public. Reporting the illegal conduct of one’s own employer can be frightening, and can have consequences. In order to encourage people to come forward when they have incriminating information about their employers, there are certain laws that protect whistleblowers. If a whistleblower is reporting fraudulent acts taken against the United States government, the False Claims Act can be used to both protect and reward the whistleblower.

What is the False Claims Act?

The False Claims Act, also referred to as “Lincoln’s Law,” has existed since 1863, when it was enacted to combat fraudulent acts committed against the Federal Government. The law allows an individual to sue on behalf of the government in what is called a “qui tam” action.

What types of violations are included under the False Claims Act?

The False Claims Act can be used to sue individuals who falsify records or make false statements in order to either get money paid to them from the government that they are not actually owed, or to avoid paying all or some of the money that they owe to the government. Additionally, if a person has temporary possession of something that is government property, and fails to return the property in its entirety, they can be sued under the False Claims Act. One of the most common areas in which people commit violations of the False Claims Act is in Medicare and Medicaid fraud. For example, healthcare facilities might bill Medicare for services that were never actually provided to the patient, or that were completely unnecessary.

What does the whistleblower get in return for filing the claim?

When a whistleblower files a “qui tam” action, he or she has the possibility to recover an award if the claim is successful. While the act originally allowed whistleblowers to collect 50% of the damages, it has since been reduced to between 15 and 30%. In some cases, whistleblowers are also protected from retaliation. The False Claims Act might require that an employee who was fired for their actions be reinstated, receive double back pay, and damages for the cost of litigating the claim, and attorney fees.

How does a “qui tam” action take place?

In a “qui tam” action, the individual reporting the violations files a suit against the violating party in Federal Court. When the suit is first filed, only the person filing the suit, referred to as the “relator,” and the government will know what the claim is about. It is then up to the government to decide whether or not to take over the claim. If the government does not take over the claim, then the relator may proceed with the case themselves. If the government does take over the claim and is successful, the relator will receive an award equal to 15-25% of what the government recovers. I the relator continues after the government chose not to intervene, then he or she can collect up to 30% of the award.

If you are in the position to report fraud on behalf on your employer, it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced attorney. There is a lot at stake in these cases, and an attorney can help you figure out the safest course of action to take given the circumstances that you are facing.  Contact Barrett Law PLLC today at (800) 707-9577 to learn more about how our seasoned Mississippi Qui Tam Lawyer can make a difference for you.

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