What’s the Process for a Qui Tam Case?
If you’ve discovered that someone you know, whether it’s an acquaintance or a co-worker, is engaging in fraudulent activity at the expense of the government, you can file a qui tam—or whistleblower—lawsuit against them to not only help the government recover lost money, but also to receive a portion of the recovered assets.
But before you file a qui tam lawsuit, you probably have many questions, including what to expect from the process and how each stage of the lawsuit will unfold. Matt Hardin Law’s team of Nashville qui tam attorneys wants you to be as familiar and comfortable with the process as possible, so that you will feel confident and in control as the lawsuit progresses.
Familiarize Yourself with These Steps
After you’ve become aware of fraudulent activity and decide to contact an attorney, you’ll set into motion several steps that may ultimately end with you receiving compensation from the government.
These steps include:
Your attorney will investigate the fraud and evidence you provide.
When you first contact an attorney about a possible qui tam case, he or she will review any evidence you provide to determine the validity of your case and whether it has merit as a lawsuit. It’s important that your attorney is able to substantiate your claims of fraudulent activity with evidence that can prove it took place or is currently taking place.
In addition to reviewing the evidence, your attorney will also determine the relationship your employer or the employer of the person who is committing fraud has with the government. This is vital to determine whether the act is actually fraudulent against the government, whether directly via internal government agencies or through contractual work.
Next, your attorney will review evidence to determine when the fraud took place or whether it’s currently still taking place. The statute of limitations for filing qui tam lawsuits is six years from the date the fraudulent activity took place, so it’s important that the fraud occurred in the recent past.
Your attorney will draft a complaint and statement based on the facts you provide.
Once your attorney has reviewed the relationship between all parties involved and evidence to determine that your qui tam case has merit, he or she will draft a written complaint called the relator’s statement. As the person who brings light to the fraudulent activity, you are the relator in a qui tam lawsuit.
Once drafted, the relator’s statement will be filed under seal, making it strictly confidential, and then forwarded to the attorney general. That means your employer or the employer of the person named in the lawsuit will be unaware of the case until the government itself decides to take legal action.
The relator’s statement as prepared by your attorney will include information such as:
- the name of the party suspected of fraud
- the nature of the fraudulent activity
- the type of evidence showing the fraud took place or is currently taking place
The relator’s statement and complaint are drafted with the intention to provide enough evidence to convince the government that the lawsuit is worth pursuing.
The government will investigate the fraudulent activity.
If the government does decide to pursue the case, it may remain under seal for an extended period of time as the government begins collecting facts and conducting its own investigation. Once the investigation is complete, the case will be unsealed and knowledge of its existence will go public.
Provided the government collects enough evidence to intervene in the case, it will generally take over the case completely through the Justice Department. When this happens, both you and your attorney may continue to participate in litigation under specific limitations.
If the government declines to intervene in the case, you and your attorney can still file a lawsuit on the government’s behalf. While it’s generally more difficult to win qui tam lawsuits without government intervention, the reward is often greater for the person who brings the fraudulent activity to light if the outcome is successful.
Unsure of What to Do Next? Contact Matt Hardin Law.
Making the decision to file a qui tam lawsuit is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you’re unsure of whether to proceed with your own whistleblower lawsuit or simply need guidance on what to expect if you do proceed, Matt Hardin Law’s team of Nashville qui tam lawyers knows the ins-and-outs of these lawsuits.
It’s important that you make a decision based on facts and merit—and that’s why we’ll review your case and any supporting evidence to help you decide your chances of success. Don’t go into your qui tam lawsuit without first speaking to our experienced legal team. Dial (615) 200-1111 or fill out a free online form to see how we can help you.