In January 2018, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) made a change to how it elects to dismiss qui tam lawsuits in which the federal government does not intervene. A qui tam lawsuit, often known as a whistleblower suit, is a claim where a private party claims that another individual or a company violated the law or a government regulation during their contract with the government. When an individual files a qui tam lawsuit, they and the government are the plaintiffs in the case who can recover compensation for damages in the event of a favorable ruling.
The government does not intervene in every qui tam lawsuit that whistleblowers file. According to the new DOJ memo, the number of qui tam claims filed under the False Claims Act has increased in recent years while the number of cases in which the government intervened has remained about the same. The policy change provides a new list of factors for DOJ attorneys to consider when determining whether to seek a dismissal of a lawsuit, because in some cases, dismissing a qui tam lawsuit serves the government’s interests better than pursuing it.
The False Claims Act and Qui Tam Lawsuits
The False Claims Act was passed in 1863 after contractors who supplied the Union Army were found to have supplied sick horses, faulty rifles, and spoiled provisions. This law provided the framework for private citizens to file lawsuits on behalf of the government for legal violations and recover a percentage of the government’s recovery in these cases.
New Factors to Consider Before Dismissing a Qui Tam Lawsuit
The following are factors DOJ attorneys may now consider to determine if pursuing a qui tam lawsuit is in the government’s best interest.
- When evidence to support the claim is lacking or the relator’s claim is otherwise frivolous, the claim may be dismissed.
- If the government is already in the process of investigating a claim, a new qui tam lawsuit that deals with the same allegation may be dismissed if it provides no useful information to the existing investigation.
- When a lawsuit interferes with an agency’s policies or programs, it may be dismissed.
- Qui tam claims that could have a negative impact on the government’s litigation prerogatives may be dismissed.
- DOJ attorneys may dismiss lawsuits that could potentially lower national security or expose classified information.
- DOJ attorneys may consider whether the potential outcome of a qui tam lawsuit is worth its cost to the government when deciding whether to dismiss it.
- If the government cannot conduct a proper investigation of a claim, it may be dismissed.
Montgomery County Qui Tam Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Whistleblowers
If you are considering acting as a whistleblower, work with an experienced Montgomery County qui tam lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected. Fill out our online form or call 215-569-1999 today to schedule your initial consultation with Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. We are in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and we serve clients from the surrounding areas.