Qui Tam

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 for himself.”

Relator

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:

  1. Overview of of the FCA and DOJ Statistics
  2. History of the FCA
  3. 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:

  1. reinstatement at same seniority;
  2. double back pay;
  3. compensation for special damages; and
  4. litigation costs and attorneys’ fees.

Relief

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.

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