Any person who is in the position of potentially bringing a whistleblower claim due to suspicions of fraud against the state or federal government should be prepared to understand that their responsibilities and rights in such a case.
In the event that you choose to bring forward litigation against a business or an individual that you believe is involved in defrauding the government, you will encounter many different terms related to the management of whistleblower cases. In addition to consulting with an experienced whistleblower attorney, you need to be prepared to understand the various terminology used to reference your case and the types of fraud alleged. One of the most common types of terms referenced in a qui tam case is relator.
A relator is the same thing as the qui tam plaintiff who initiates the case. Regardless of whether or not the federal government gets involved in the case and takes up against the defendant, the plaintiff will continue to be called the relator. The relator could be entitled to a portion of the recovery in a qui tam case, although the amount of this recovery based as a percentage could be altered based on whether or not the government gets involved.
This term originated in the first law signed by President Lincoln in 1863 as part of the government’s efforts to curb fraud. In 1863, the use of the word whistleblower was not in popular use. For this reason, even modern whistleblower laws explained that the term relate or is used by parties and courts to signify The Whistleblower or the individual who had inside information about alleged fraud.
Who Can Be a Relator?
More often than not, a qui tam plaintiff is a person who has insider information about fraud that occurred on the part of a company or an individual. It is usually the case study qui tam plaintiff is a person who currently or previously works for the company in question. However, it is not necessarily require that the plaintiff be the one who witnessed the fraud directly.
Any party who has a reasonable suspicion that fraud occurs and has evidence indicating that fraud happened within a company that ultimately harmed the government is eligible to bring litigation on behalf of the government.
One of the most important components of a qui tam cases whether or not the fraud has already been disclosed in a public manner. A qui tam plaintiff might not be entitled to bring a legal action in all cases in which the fraud has already been publicly disclosed. If he was a blower has direct knowledge about the fraud however outside of the publicly disclosed details, a qui tam plaintiff can still bring a case.
To better understand what is public disclosure, a potential whistleblower can sit down with an experienced qui tam lawyer to discuss his or her options. Information has been publicly disclosed if it has been broadcast or printed in the news media. However public disclosure can also affect an ongoing or possible qui tam case if the information has been disclosed in a government report or hearing or in another civil or criminal lawsuit. it is not necessarily the case that the general public must have knowledge of this issue to meet the public disclosure requirement.
For this reason, anyone who believes they have information about fraud against the government should obtain legal advice as soon as possible to understand next steps. Not everyone will qualify to be able to bring a Qui tam action.
What Kinds of Fraud Could a Relator Reference?
The False Claims Act is one of the most important laws affecting qui tam plaintiffs. Fraud has a much more inclusive and broader meaning under this law. It is important to remember that the defendant in a qui tam case does not actually have to know that the information provided to the federal government was false. It can be enough for the defendant to have supplied information to the government in reckless disregard or in deliberate ignorance of the truth.
This means that the purpose of the law is not limited only to those who purposely misrepresent facts in order to attempt to obtain benefits or payments from the government. The law also covers reckless conduct, which means that a whistleblower who becomes aware of reckless conduct can consult with a knowledgeable whistleblower protection lawyer to determine what to do next.
If a defendant should have known that the representations to the government or not accurate or true but did not take additional steps to check, this reckless behavior could constitute a violation of the law. Furthermore, in the event that and it purposely ignores information that could reveal the false nature of what is submitted to the government, this deliberate ignorance could also constitute violation.
Are Relators Protected for Bringing Claims?
The government benefits substantially from the services of whistleblowers who call instances of fraud to their attention. For this reason, the False Claims Act provides numerous protections for whistleblowers who are concerned about their ability to remain in their positions after taking a good-faith effort to report fraud.
It is more than likely the case that the whistleblower has brought the alleged fraud to the attention of management or supervisors in a previous occasion within the company or using internal reporting channel. This can alert the business in question to the whistleblower’s identity. Furthermore, in the event that litigation is brought, the whistleblowers information might be revealed in the case.
Even in the event that the employer is upset about the allegations of fraud, employers are prohibited from taking adversarial action against an employee due to the employee’s participation and protected activity.
Protected activity can include disclosing the fraud, participating in a government investigation, or testifying in the case, among other actions. An employee who believes that his or her employer has violated this law could have grounds for filing a retaliation lawsuit.
Knowing legal options is important. For a whistleblower, sitting down with an attorney at the outset of the case could make a big difference in clarifying what a relator does and what can be expected after an investigation is opened.