Magazine article Drug Topics

Whistle-Blow While You Work

Magazine article Drug Topics

Whistle-Blow While You Work

Article excerpt

Ever fantasized about being Attorney General? Forget Janet Reno. To make the dream come true, file a qui tam lawsuit. Qui tam is a shortened version of a long Latin phrase that means suing on behalf of the government as well as yourself-acting, in effect, as a private attorney general. The filer, called the relator or plaintiff in legal parlance, and the government share any recovery and damages awarded by a court.

Such suits have been around since the 13th century in England, and during the Civil War, they became part of U.S. law to combat military procurement fraud. Known then as the Lincoln Law or the Informer's Act, the provision was updated during the Reagan-era arms buildup. Increasingly, private citizens are using it in the healthcare arena.

Under the Federal False Claims Act Amendments of 1986, unofficially dubbed the whistle-blowers law, a successful suit brings sizable monetary gains. A government contractor found guilty is liable for treble damages plus civil penalties of $5,000 to $10,000 for each false claim submitted. If the whistle-blower goes it alone, he or she can get 25%-30% of the recovery. …

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