Qui Tam Law, History and False Claims Whistleblowing

History of Qui Tam Whistleblower Laws

Qui tam, or whistleblower, laws existed as far back as the 13th Century in England, and were part of the law in America during colonial times.  “Qui tam” comes from the Latin phrase, “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur,” which roughly means “he who brings an action for the king as well as for himself.”  Qui tam provisions were adopted in English common law to provide for the enforcement of the law by those who suffered injury as a result of violations. The government paid a reward or bounty to the private party to make the effort worthwhile, and to give incentives to other individuals to bring similar suits. In effect, qui tam laws encouraged ordinary citizens to act as law enforcement officers. In fact, the term “whistleblower” is derived from the act of a police officer using a whistle to summon help from other officers.

Qui Tam in the United States

After winning independence from the British, the newly formed United States followed the English common law and included qui tam provisions in many of its new laws.  In fact, of the twelve criminal statutes that the Continental Congress enacted, ten contained qui tam provisions.

The federal False Claims Act was first enacted during the U.S. Civil War, to combat the despicable act of war profiteering on the part of those who sold supplies to the Union Army.  Known as the “Lincoln Law,” the False Claims Act included “qui tam” provisions that allowed private citizens to sue, on the government’s behalf, companies and individuals that were defrauding the government. Under the original False Claims Act, wrongdoers were assessed double damages and a $2,000 civil fine for each false claim submitted.  Whistleblowers were entitled to receive 50% of the amount the government recovered as a result of their cases.

In 1943, Congress virtually emasculated the False Claims Act by making drastic modifications to the law.  This included placing severe limitations on the rewards qui tam whistleblowers could obtain.  Other changes made to the law at this time made it virtually impossible for government employees to bring qui tam lawsuits if they received information regarding fraud against the government.  These changes caused the False Claims Act to fall into almost complete disuse.

In the mid 1980s, widespread reports of fraud by defense contractors against the U.S. government helped to revive the False Claims Act.  In 1986, the False Claims Act was amended to encourage more whistleblowers to come forward and to create incentives for private attorneys to use their own resources to investigate fraud. The amended False Claims Act provided that whistleblowers who brought successful qui tam lawsuits were entitled to 15 percent to 30 percent of the government’s recovery, and their attorneys were guaranteed payment of their regular hourly fees by the defendant. Companies and other entities that defraud the government are liable for treble damages and a $5,000 to $10,000 penalty for each false claim.

Amendments to the False Claims Act were included as section 4 of the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act in 2009. These amendments clarified terms used in the original law that were not defined in the statute.  In 2010, additional amendments were made as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Legal Help for Qui Tam False Claims Whistleblowers

The False Claims Act whistleblower lawyers at Gilman Law LLP have assisted honest citizens in multiple industries file qui tam lawsuits against contractors and others who have defrauded the federal government.  If you are thinking of becoming a qui tam  whistleblower, our experienced whistleblower attorneys will make sure you receive all of the protections afforded by the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act , and will do everything necessary to ensure you recover the maximum whistleblower reward possible.  For a free and confidential evaluation of your possible False Claims qui tam case, please fill out our online form or call Toll Free at 1-888-252-0048.

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