A qui tam lawsuit can make you millions under the False Claims Act
If you are aware of an individual person or company that you think may be violating the Federal False Claims Act or a State False Claims Act, you should contact a Weitz & Luxenberg whistleblower lawyer who can assist you in evaluating your potential claim.
The payoffs for such cases are much greater than they would be for similar suits not filed under a qui tam provision, and the person bringing the suit against the defendant is entitled to a substantial portion of the winnings.
If their suits are successful, whistle-blowers can sometimes receive as much as 20 percent of the awarded claims. A former sales manager at Merck obtained $68 million in 2008 when he helped to expose a drug-pricing scheme. The whistler-blower claimed that the pharmaceutical company violated federal law, when it concealed deep discounts given specially to hospitals that demonstrated preference to its products. (Washington Post)
In another prominent case, the British drug company, Glaxo Smith Kline, was sued for knowingly selling tainted drugs to the public for years. The whistleblower was Cheryl Eckard, who worked as the company’s quality manager. Eckard said that she had warned Glaxo of the problems, which included product mix-ups as well as contaminated products. Instead of addressing the issues, the company fired her. The company eventually agreed to pay $750 million to settle the criminal and civil complaints.
(New York Times) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/27/business/27drug.html?_r=2&hp
What is the False Claims Act?
The False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq.) “provides for liability for triple damages and a penalty from $5,500 to $11,000 per claim for anyone who knowingly submits or causes the submission of a false or fraudulent claim to the United States.”(U.S. Department of Justice)
First passed in 1863, the act includes an ancient legal device called a “qui tam” provision (an abbreviation of a Latin phrase meaning “he who brings a case on behalf of our lord the King, as well as for himself”).
This provision allows a private person, known as a “relator,” to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the United States, where the private person has information that the named defendant has knowingly submitted or caused the submission of false or fraudulent claims to the United States. The relator need not have been personally harmed by the defendant’s conduct.
The damages or settlement are divided among the government to rectify the situation, the law firm for their work, and the person the firm represents for his or her ordeal and risk.
Seal of secrecy
By law, the qui tam complaint must be filed under seal, which means that all records relating to the case must be kept on a secret docket by the Clerk of the Court. Copies of the complaint are given only to the United States Department of Justice, including the local United States Attorney and the assigned judge of the District Court. The Court may, usually upon motion by the United States Attorney, make the complaint available to other persons.
Moving forward with a possible Qui Tam case
While the above section provides a general overview, qui tam litigation is a complicated process. If you are thinking of filing a qui tam lawsuit, we urge you to read more about the False Claims Act.
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