Qui Tam Relator: Definition

In False Claims Act (“FCA”) cases, the person who brings the False Claims Act claim against the company or individual who commits fraud is called a qui tam relator. Oftentimes the whistleblower is an insider, such as an employee of the company, a contractor, or someone with intimate knowledge of the fraud, and can produce substantial direct evidence.

The False Claims Act, also called the “Lincoln Law”, is an American federal law that imposes liability on persons and companies who defraud governmental programs. It is the federal Government’s primary litigation tool in combating fraud against the Government.

Qui tam lawsuits are a type of lawsuit brought under the False Claims Act, by the relator, which can be filed separately in accordance with both federal and state law. These lawsuits are one of the strongest types of suits, because they include strong protections against retaliation.

False Claims Act Qui Tam Provision 31 U.S.C. § 3730(b)

The False Claims Act is codified as 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-33. Section 3729 sets forth anti-fraud requirements of the Act, and Section 3730 includes the provisions related to filing a qui tam lawsuit by a whistleblower.

“A person may bring a civil action for a violation of section 3729 for the person and for the United States Government. The action shall be brought in the name of the Government. The action may be dismissed only if the court and the Attorney General give written consent to the dismissal and their reasons for consenting.”

This “person” who brings the case in the government under the False Claims Act, in the form of a qui tam lawsuit, is considered a qui tam relator. The qui tam relator is seeking to assist the government and taxpayers in recovering money that was falsely claimed (and used) by a fraudster.

Multiple whistleblower lawsuits can be filed — to both the federal government and state with the help of a whistleblower attorney. Filing to both the federal and state government increases the award amount that a whistleblower is eligible to receive.

Key Takeaways

  • Qui tam relator is another word for a whistleblower who files a qui tam lawsuit against under the False Claims Act. This civil action is submitted to the Department of Justice by a whistleblower attorney in attempts to collect fraudulently-used federal funds.
  • Qui tam relators are often times the whistleblower is an insider, such as an employee of the company, a contractor, or someone with intimate knowledge of the fraud, and can produce substantial direct evidence.
  • Approximately $2.1 billion dollars came from False Claims Act lawsuits brought by qui tam relators in 2020. The DOJ recently announced it has collected more than $2 billion in settlements and judgements from the False Claims Act in 2019. Recoveries since 1986, when Congress substantially strengthened the FCA, now total more than $62 billion.

Federal False Claims Act Whistleblower Protections for Relators

Relators filing qui tam lawsuits under the provisions of the False Claims Act are protected against retaliation. The law prohibits employer retaliation against a whistleblower who files a qui tam action or for reporting violations of the False Claims Action.

The Law States:

Any employee, contractor, or agent shall be entitled to all relief necessary to make that employee, contractor, or agent whole, if that employee, contractor, or agent is discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment because of lawful acts done by the employee, contractor, agent or associated others in furtherance of an action under this section or other efforts to stop 1 or more violations of this subchapter.

Penalties for Violating the False Claims Act

Those found liable under the federal or state or Federal False Claims Act may be required to pay three times the amount of the loss. As well as any civil penalties for each fraudulent claim.

Furthermore, the law also allows for an award of expenses, such as attorney fees and other costs associated with the relator and attorney bringing a valid qui tam complaint to the government. A portion of the funds go to the qui tam relator as an award, in addition to the mandatory whistleblower reward of between 15% and 30% of the total amount collected by the government.

The FCA also requires that if the defendants loses or settles the case, they must pay the relator’s attorneys’ fees and costs. Keep in mind, most successful qui tam cases are resolved through settlement rather than a court trial – although trials do occur on occasion.

Becoming a Qui Tam Relator

If you’ve witnessed violations of fraud against the government, and have substantial evidence of the fraud, you should consider contacting our attorneys. We help protect the identity of qui tam relators, explain the qui tam lawsuit process and assist in filing all of the necessary paperwork.

The False Claims Act has complicated rules and extremely technical procedures for filing a qui tam lawsuit or a request for a whistleblower reward. Failure to file in a timely fashion or following specific procedures outlined in the False Claims Act law can result in a whistleblower losing his or her claim or reward.

Qui tam is pronounced “kee tam” and often also pronounced as “kwee tam,” which stands for “in the name of the king.” This name is shortened from the Latin phrase qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur. Which means “who sues in this matter for the king as well as for himself.”