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Whistleblower / Qui Tam

Whistleblowers who appropriately report corporate fraud involving federal or State of Tennessee taxes are entitled to a significant portion of the government's recovered losses and fines won through the qui tam lawsuits under the provisions of the federal False Claims Act and/or Tennessee's Medicaid False Claims Act (TMFCA).

Whistleblowers under the False Claims Act help recover literally billions of tax dollars. Tennessee also targets the misuse of Medicaid and TennCare tax dollars through its Tennessee's Medicaid False Claims Act (TMFCA). Both these federal and state laws give financial incentives (nearly $200 million paid to qui tam whistleblowers last year) to qui tam whistleblowers for reporting fraud by requiring a portion of the recoveries (up to 30% in False Claims and up to 33% in Tennessee Medicaid False Claims cases) go to whistleblowers.

This percentage of False Claims recovery comes from qui tam statutesQui tam (pronounced "kwee tam") is short for the Latin phrase "qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hoc parte sequitur," which roughly means that a person sues for the king as well as him or herself. A qui tam whistleblower working with a qualified lawyer can sue for three times the government's damages plus civil penalties ($5,500 to $11,000 per claim).

Common Qui Tam Whistleblower Cases

While government fraud comes in a number of forms, from double and ghost-billing under government contracts to farm subsidy and illegal use of federal educational dollars, and has involved companies including Lockheed Martin, University of Phoenix, OfficeMax, and others--by far the greatest culprit has been the health care industry.

Examples of health care fraud include billing Medicare, Medicaid, or TennCare dollars for supplies never used, equipment substituted, unbundling (separating a package into individual procedures that are more expensive), billing individuals that do not exist, waiving patient co-pay, and other means. Tennessee health care fraud comes from all areas, including Tennessee hospitals, nursing homes, surgeons, chiropractors, and laboratories.

Tennesseans suffer more than just higher taxes from health care fraud. Qui tam cases have revealed doctors diluting cancer-fighting chemotherapy medications and the mistreatment of veterans in Tennessee veterans' homes from companies cutting costs while still charging the same prices.

Qui Tam Whistleblower Considerations

To qualify for qui tam moneys in a False Claims or a Tennessee Medicaid False Claims Act lawsuit, the whistleblower filing the claim (called a relator) with a qualified attorney must meet certain conditions:

  • Qui tam whistleblower must be an employee or professionally involved with the guilty party.
  • Qui tam whistleblower must file before another whistleblower becomes a relator.
  • Qui tam whistleblower must not have initiated the false billing or other misuse of U.S. or Tennessee tax dollars for the purposes of filing a qui tam lawsuit.

An  experienced qui tam attorney can discuss additional conditions and matters to consider.

Taking Action with a Qui Tam Attorney

Initially with a False Claims whistleblower case, the relator's identity will remain confidential to prevent retaliation. If or when a relator's identity is revealed, federal and Tennessee employment laws prohibit retaliation against a False Claims whistleblower. If retaliation occurs during the course or after a federal or Tennessee False Claims lawsuit, the whistleblower can be awarded damages, including reinstatement, twice the pay withheld or the amount the employee would have earned, and attorney fees.

These protections, though, are not assured if appropriate action is not taken with a qualified Tennessee qui tam attorney. The Higgins Firm’s attorneys are dedicated to the best interests of our clients. Contact The Higgins Firm  for an experienced qui tam attorney.

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