Qui Tam vs. False Claim Cases
California has enacted the False Claims Act, which allows a civil lawsuit to be brought against persons who knowingly make false statements or use false documents to defraud the state of money or property. This law has been broadly interpreted to allow for qui tam lawsuits, which are more often referred to as whistleblower claims.
Attorney Gregory Thyberg has represented clients in several types of qui tam claims. He understands the implications of the False Claims Act and the differences regarding qui tam vs. false claim cases. Individuals in the Sacramento, CA, area considering a qui tam case can work with our legal team to determine if they have grounds for a claim.
The California False Claims Act
The California False Claims Act was enacted to protect the state against fraud or other financial misconduct. The act allows the Attorney General to bring a civil lawsuit against persons or parties who knowingly use false statements or documents to obtain money or property from the state or avoid paying money owed to the state.
False claim cases are filed by the Attorney General, but investigations usually start with tips received from other parties, such as the general public; state, federal, and local agencies; or qui tam complaints (whistleblower complaints). In false claim cases, the Attorney General takes civil action to recover treble damages and civil penalties from fraudulent parties.
Qui Tam Lawsuits
The False Claims Act has been interpreted to allow qui tam lawsuits to assist the government in recovering damages and penalties for fraud. Qui tam translates to “in the name of the king.” The term originated in England during the Middle Ages when the king enlisted the public to report legal violations in exchange for a reward. Qui tam lawsuits have helped the government recover billions of dollars stolen from the government and taxpayers.
A qui tam lawsuit allows whistleblowers to file a civil claim on behalf of the government. Examples of fraud alleged in qui tam claims include:
- Medicare and Medicaid fraud
- Defense contractor fraud
- Procurement fraud
- Fraudulent billing
To file a qui tam claim, our Sacramento clients must have evidence of intention to defraud the government, meaning the person or party knowingly acted fraudulently or purposely made false claims. Qui tam lawsuits are often filed by employees who have inside knowledge of their employers’ fraudulent actions.
Can I Collect Personal Damages in a Qui Tam Lawsuit?
Qui tam relators (the person or party who files the claim on behalf of the government) do not collect personal damages from a qui tam claim, but they are rewarded if a lawsuit is successful. When the government chooses to intervene in a case, and the lawsuit is successful, qui tam relators are entitled to 15 to 25 percent of the total damages recovered by the government. If the government chooses not to intervene in a qui tam case and the lawsuit is successful, qui tam relators are entitled to 25 to 30 percent of the damages recovered.
Reporting an employer’s fraudulent behavior can be scary, but we encourage workers to come forward to report government fraud. Gregory Thyberg and his legal team are prepared to protect your rights and ensure you are justly rewarded for any recovered damages. To learn more about false claims and qui tam lawsuits, send us a message online or call (916) 204-9173 and schedule a consultation at our Sacramento law firm.