If you are a worker who finds out about illegal activities in your workplace, you may be afraid to report the illegal conduct because you believe you will lose your job. Whistleblowers are employees or others who expose a company that is defrauding the government by filing a “qui tam lawsuit” against the employer. An individual can take this action under the federal False Claims Act (FCA), the Tennessee False Claims Act (TFCA), or the Tennessee Medicaid False Claims Act (TMFCA), and a Nashville qui tam lawyer can help. Experienced employment law attorney Matt Hardin can explain the subtle differences between these statutes and help you protect your job while also exposing your company’s wrongdoing by filing a qui tam lawsuit on your behalf.
Making the decision to file a qui tam lawsuit isn’t easy. Because these lawsuits typically involve convincing the government to take action, it’s of utmost importance that the people who file them and their attorneys are well-versed in these cases and have plenty of evidence of the fraudulent activities in question that they can present to the attorney general.
If you’re thinking about filing a qui tam lawsuit but want more information, read the following resources to learn more:
Because of the relatively rare nature of these cases, many people have never heard of qui tam cases. If you’ve witnessed or learned of fraudulent activity occurring in your organization, the information on this page can help you determine whether you have a valid case. If you think your case has merit, our Nashville qui tam attorneys can review it and determine its overall viability in court.
Qui tam lawsuits are complex. They require significant amounts of evidence in order to convince the government to intervene. This page can help you understand how each step of the process plays out, from your attorney first investigating your claims of fraud and evidence all the way to the case ending up in court after being brought to the attention of the Justice Department.
In addition to requiring confidentiality, qui tam lawsuits also must be conducted swiftly after the fraudulent activity is observed, as these cases are considered void if the activity becomes public knowledge or the statute of limitations runs out. Use the information on this page to learn what you should do right away if you’ve witnessed fraud at your company and are considering filing a qui tam lawsuit.
By their definition, qui tam lawsuits are designed to help the federal government recover money that it lost through fraudulent activities organized either by government employees or contractors who work with the government. This page answers the question of how much money defendants can lose if a private citizen, his or her attorney, and the federal government provide evidence that proves fraudulent activities took place at the expense of the government and taxpayers.
In order to incentivize private citizens to report fraud, the government offers monetary compensation if qui tam cases are successfully resolved. The amount of compensation that people who file qui tam lawsuits can receive varies from 15 percent to 50 percent of the total amount of money owed by the defendants. Read this page to learn more about the percentages and what it takes to maximize the potential payout.
People who are aware of fraud and know that qui tam lawsuits offer monetary compensation may still be reluctant to press forward with their cases due to beliefs that the legal system is expensive. Our Nashville qui tam lawyers believe in making the justice system equally available to all citizens regardless of their ability to pay. Read more to find out how our Nashville whistleblower lawyers can offer our services for qui tam lawsuits with no upfront fees, costs, or hourly rates.
Examples of actions giving rise to a qui tam lawsuit include knowingly presenting a false claim for payment to an officer or employee of the state, or knowingly making or using a false record to get a false claim approved by the state or a political subdivision of the state. The State of Tennessee also targets false claims against the state and the misuse of Medicaid and TennCare tax dollars by permitting qui tam lawsuits to be brought for health care fraud against the state government. For example, a hospital that bills Medicaid for supplies that were not used would be committing health care fraud under TMFCA.
In order to qualify for a percentage of the recovery in a qui tam lawsuit, the whistleblower (known as a “relator”) must be an employee or someone professionally involved with the organization committing fraud, must be the first person to file a qui tam lawsuit, and must not be the individual who initiated the false billing or other fraudulent activity that gives rise to the claim.
The FCA, TFCA, and TMFCA protect a whistleblower’s job when he or she has evidence that an employer is defrauding the government. The whistleblower sues the employer to obtain compensation on behalf of the government. When the employer is found liable in a qui tam lawsuit in federal court, it may be ordered to pay up to three times what the government lost for each false claim, in addition to penalties of $5,000-$10,000 for each of the false claims. Whistleblowers have an incentive to bring a federal qui tam lawsuit because they can receive 15-25% of the recovery when the government intervenes. The reward is 25-30% of the recovery when the government doesn’t intervene. The reward for whistleblowers in successful TMFCA cases is up to 33% of the recovery.
The lawsuit will be under seal for 60 days such that it will be a secret lawsuit, not revealed to the employer while the Justice Department is investigating. The court may extend the seal to allow an adequate investigation. The government will decide whether to intervene in the lawsuit after the investigation is complete. Cases in which the government intervenes are more likely to be successful, but this only happens in a small percentage of cases. In some cases, the seal is lifted to allow the government to discuss the allegations with the company and negotiate a settlement.
When you bring a qui tam lawsuit under FCA, TFCA, or TMFCA, you are protected against your employer’s potential retaliation in the event that your identity is revealed. Retaliation occurs when an employee is discriminated against, terminated, demoted, or harassed because of lawful acts in furtherance of a qui tam action. If retaliation occurs and you successfully sue, you can be awarded damages including reinstatement, twice the withheld pay or the amount you would have earned, and attorneys’ fees.
A Nashville lawyer experienced in bringing qui tam lawsuits can help you take action as a whistleblower against your employer if it has acted fraudulently. Employment and injury attorney Matt Hardin also can help you protect your right to be protected against retaliation. Contact our office by calling (615) 200-1111 or completing our online form.