Qui Tam (pronunciation: kwày tæm) or whistleblower cases allow private citizens to sue on behalf of the government. Qui tam is an abbreviation from the Latin “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro sic ipso in hoc parte sequitur” meaning “who as well for the king as for himself sues in this matter.”
Qui Tam cases arise under the False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. § 3729, et seq.), which permit private individuals, or “relators,” to file actions based upon fraud against the government. These individuals “blow the whistle” to stop the fraud and do not need to be harmed personally to file suit. The most common cases stem from billing the government fraudulently for health care or other government spending programs.
The relator files the action on behalf of the government and the Department of Justice has the option of intervening and taking over the case. Relators filing under the False Claims Act stand to receive 15-30% of the recovered damages.
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