Commercial Law and Litigation

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Commercial Law and Litigation

Qui Tam

With increasing frequency, rampant fraud directed against our government is reported in the news. Health care fraud, for example, is estimated by the FBI to cost U.S. taxpayers $60 billion per year.
 
Those currently or formerly employed by the wrongdoer are usually in the best position to uncover and take action to put a halt to illegal activity. They also have, of course, the most to lose.  In America, no one should be punished for doing the right thing, especially those with the courage and integrity to expose wrongdoing that is hurting us all, which is why laws exist that reward and protect  "whistle blowers."
 
A whistle blower is usually an insider who is disturbed about some wrongful conduct of his or her employer, has raised the issue inside the company and has been retaliated against or has been ignored.
 
One such whistle blower law is known as the False Claims Act [the "Act"].  It is also called the "Qui Tam" statute.   In brief, this federal Act  allows a private citizen with knowledge of fraud being perpetrated against the government to file a civil lawsuit on behalf of him or herself and the government against the wrongdoer in order to recover damages, penalties and counsel fees. As a reward, a portion of the monies recovered by the government is paid directly to the whistle blower.  
 
The Act also protects whistle blowers who are "demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment" for acts related to filing a claim under the False Claims Act. 
 
The Act and other federal and state  whistle blower laws apply to many different kinds of fraud against the government, for example in the mortgage industry, at brokerage houses, in health care and  pharmaceutical companies, with respect to tax fraud, government contractor fraud, and  the list goes on.  Again, these laws provide for the whistle blower to individually receive a percentage of the government's recovery and protect the whistle blower from employer retaliation.
 
If you think that you have discovered fraud by your employer or a third party against the government, it is essential that you contact Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman. You will need to bring all of your facts and documentary evidence to your attorney, who will investigate and then counsel you on whether or not you have a viable whistleblower claim under one or more of the relevant statutes.  As you might imagine, provisions and procedures under these whistleblower/qui tam laws are sophisticated and complicated -- it is very difficult, if not impossible, for a lay person to maneuver through them without the assistance of an experienced attorney.
 
 Finally,  DO NOT disclose information to anyone other than your attorney - disclosure could undermine your whistle blower claim.

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