Qui Tam Lawsuits
Qui Tam Definition
The term “qui tam” refers to the Latin expression “qui
tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hae parte sequitur,” which
translates to, “he who brings an action for the king as well as
A “relator” is just another word for “plaintiff”
and is a person who brings a civil action for a violation of the FCA.
But, unlike plaintiffs in most civil cases, relators sue on their on behalf
and for the United States Government.
Who Can Be a Relator and Typical Jobs
Typically, relators are company insiders who discover that their employer
is defrauding the United States Government. For example, in healthcare
fraud cases, relators usually work for pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical
device manufacturers, biotechnology companies, health maintenance organizations,
prescription drug plan providers, pharmacies, long-term care facilities,
hospitals, academic medical research organizations (such as universities
and hospitals receiving NIH grants), skilled nursing facilities, home
healthcare providers, laboratories, and durable medical equipment companies.
Another example is in the government procurement area where relators work
for companies that provide goods and services to the United States Government
such as the Department of Defense.
We have provided some useful background about qui tam lawsuits in the links below:
- Overview of of the FCA and DOJ Statistics
- History of the FCA
- FCA Text
If you have questions, feel free to contact us for a FREE evaluation.
FCA & Anti-Retaliation Protections
The FCA includes broad anti-retaliation protections under 3730(h) that provide:
(h) Relief from retaliatory actions.--
(1) In general.--Any employee, contractor, or agent shall be entitled to
all relief necessary to make that employee, contractor, or agent whole,
if that employee, contractor, or agent is discharged, demoted, suspended,
threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in
the terms and conditions of employment because of lawful acts done by
the employee, contractor, agent or associated others in furtherance of
an action under this section or other efforts to stop 1 or more violations
of this subchapter.
The FCA’s liability provisions cast a much wider net and capture
not only “acts done ‘in furtherance of an action’ but
also ‘other efforts to stop 1 or more violations’ of, the”
FCA. “[O]r other efforts” means steps taken to remedy an FCA
violation through other means, including internal reporting to a supervisor
or compliance department, or refusals to participate in unlawful activity.
In stark contrast to pre-FERA 3730(h) claims, where some courts narrowly
limited “protected activity” to situations where the employee’s
complaints raised a “distinct possibility” of FCA qui tam
litigation, post-FERA 3730(h) eliminated the “distinct possibility”
requirement. Now, “sufficiently pleading the protected activity
prong of an FCA retaliation claim . . . [of] “other efforts”
. . . is subject to a broader standard” and is satisfied by investigations,
internal reporting, or refusal to participate standing alone.
Elements of a Qui Tam Suit
To state a claim for retaliatory discharge, plaintiffs must allege facts
regarding the three elements of the claim, namely that: (1) they engaged
in protected activity under the statute; (2) the defendant knew they engaged
in protected activity; and (3) that plaintiffs were discharged because
they engaged in this protective activity.
Protected Activity: Protected activity is broadly defined and may include
not only steps taken in furtherance of a potential or actual qui tam action,
but also steps taken to remedy the misconduct through methods such as
internal reporting to a supervisor or company compliance department and
refusals to participate in the misconduct that leads to the false claims,
whether or not such steps are clearly in furtherance of a potential or
actual qui tam action.
Defendant’s Knew Plaintiffs Engaged in Protected Activity: An employee
may put the employer on notice of possible False Claims Act litigation
by making internal reports that alert the employer to fraudulent or illegal conduct.
Plaintiffs were discharged because they engaged in protected activity:
Plaintiffs must specifically allege they were discharged in retaliation
for their investigation, refusal to participate in, and reports of false claims.
Damages in a Qui Tam Suit
Plaintiffs are entitled to:
- reinstatement at same seniority;
- double back pay;
- compensation for special damages; and
- litigation costs and attorneys’ fees.
Relief under paragraph (1) shall include reinstatement with the same seniority
status that employee, contractor, or agent would have had but for the
discrimination, 2 times the amount of back pay, interest on the back pay,
and compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the
discrimination, including litigation costs and reasonable attorneys'
fees. An action under this subsection may be brought in the appropriate
district court of the United States for the relief provided in this subsection.
Call us to learn more about qui tam suits.