Philadelphia Qui Tam Lawyers
Whistleblower – Qui Tam Lawyers in Pennsylvania & New Jersey
Philadelphia employment lawyer, Sidney L. Gold, and his team of experienced, competent legal professionals have spent over three decades fighting for the rights of Pennsylvania employees. Litigating countless “whistleblower” suits, the Philadelphia employment law firm of Sidney L. Gold & Associates has helped employees fight against retaliation at work when they have stood up for their rights and the rights of others. If you are considering a Qui tam action under the False Claims Act to expose your employers’ fraudulent actions against the U.S. Government and the country’s taxpayers, choose a Philadelphia Qui Tam lawyer who has made a career of seeking justice for courageous individuals who stand up to injustice. Our legal team of Pennsylvania employment lawyers will protect your rights against retaliation in the workplace and pursue full recovery of the compensation you deserve under federal law.
False Claims Act
The False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729 – 3733, was enacted in 1863 by the U.S. Congress concerned that suppliers of goods to the Union Army during the Civil War were defrauding the Army. The FCA provided that any person who knowingly submitted false claims to the government was liable for double the government’s damages plus a penalty of $2,000 for each false claim. Since then, the FCA has been amended several times, including significant changes in 1986. Amended three times since 1986, the FCA has become a powerful tool for uncovering fraud and abuse of federal government programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare.
In general terms, the FCS provides that those who knowingly submit, or cause another person or entity to submit, false claims for payment of government funds are liable for three times the government’s damages plus civil penalties of $5,500 to $11,000 per false claim. Specifically, the FCA prohibits a person from:
- Knowingly presenting or causing to be presented a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval, or conspiring to do so;
- Knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim, or conspiring to do so;
- Having possession, custody, or control of property or money used, or to be used, by the Government and knowingly delivering, or causing to be delivered, less than all of that property or money, or conspiring to do so;
- Making or delivering a document certifying receipt of property used, or to be used, by the Government without completely knowing that the information on the receipt is true, with the intent to defraud the Government, or conspiring to do so;
- Knowingly buying, or receiving as a pledge of an obligation or debt, public property from an officer or employee of the Government, or a member of the Armed Forces, who lawfully may not sell or pledge property, or conspiring to do so; or
- Knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used, a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government, or knowingly and improperly concealing, avoiding or decreasing an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government.
The law provides that “knowingly” does not necessarily mean that a violator has actual knowledge of fraudulent information or documents. A violator need only act in “deliberate ignorance” or “reckless disregard” of the truth or falsity of the information or documents. Therefore, proof of specific intent to defraud is not required.
“Whistleblower” or Qui Tam Lawsuits
The False Claims Act contains Qui tam or “whistleblower” provisions. “Qui tam,” short for “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro si ipso in hac parte sequitur,” is a Latin phrase which translates to “he who brings an action for the king as well as for himself.” Qui tam lawsuits are special types of whistleblower lawsuits that encourage individuals, such as employees, to expose private parties, such as corporations, that defraud government programs.
Qui Tam Whistleblower Provisions
The 1986 amendments to the False Claims Act’s strengthened the Qui tam provisions, creating incentives for private citizens with evidence of fraud to commit their time and resources to supplement the Government’s efforts. The Qui tam provisions of the FCA allow persons with evidence of fraud against the Government to sue, on behalf of the Government, in order to recover stolen funds. A Qui tam complaint remains sealed for at least 60 days during which the Department of Justice can investigate and decide whether to join the action.
The key Qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act are:
- Qui tam plaintiffs may recover a reward between 15% and 30% of the funds they help the government recover.
- If retaliated against for coming forward, Qui tam plaintiffs may also have an action for retaliation.
- Qui tam plaintiffs and their lawyers continue to participate in the suits if and when the government joins.
- If the Qui tam plaintiff is successful, the defendant must pay for the plaintiff’s reasonable expenses and attorney’s fees.
Whistleblower Claims for Tax Fraud
The False Claims Act excludes tax fraud in that it explicitly states that the FCS “does not apply to claims, records, or statements made under the Internal Revenue Code.” There is however, a separate IRS Whistleblower Law providing for up to treble damages and whistleblower awards of 15 to 30% of the amount recovered. To file under this section of the law, the alleged defrauded amount must be in excess of $2,000,000.
Fraud Covered by the False Claims Act
In general, the FCA covers fraud involving any federally-funded contract or program with the exception of tax fraud. If you are an employee working for an employer that executes contracts with the U.S. Government for goods and services, provides services to others funded by Government programs, or receives Government grants for research and services, you may witness fraud in the workplace that is covered by the FCA. While the Qui tam provisions were strengthened in 1986 to combat fraudulent dealings with the Department of Defense during the Cold War, in recent years Qui tam actions focus more on Medicare fraud and fraud against other federally-funded health care programs. However, there are many scenarios for fraud covered by the FCA. Here are just a few:
- Billing for goods and services that were never delivered or rendered.
- Billing for corporate expenses not related to the federal contract.
- Providing faulty or inferior goods and equipment.
- Performing inappropriate or unnecessary medical procedures to increase reimbursement from healthcare programs, such as Medicare.
- Billing for work or tests not performed.
- Falsifying test results.
- Charging more than once for the same goods or service.
- Removing natural resources from public lands than is actually reported.
- Billing for research that was never conducted
- Falsifying research data that was paid for by the U.S. government.
- Prescribing a medicine or recommending a type of treatment to get kickbacks from hospitals, labs or pharmaceutical companies.
- Billing for unlicensed or unapproved drugs.
Call the Philadelphia Qui tam Lawyers at the Employment Law Firm of Sidney L. Gold & Associates
Only a reputable employment law firm with experience and resources can handle complex Qui tam cases. A law firm that takes on a Qui tam case must believe it has a very strong case in order to proceed. Whistleblower suits require careful evaluation and preparation by an experienced Philadelphia Qui Tam lawyer to ensure that a true False Claim Act violation has occurred. With decades of experience litigating employee whistleblower cases, the Pennsylvania Qui tam attorneys of Sidney L. Gold & Associates will work to ensure that our clients’ rights are protected against workplace retaliation and that our clients receive the full compensation payable under the Qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. If you are considering a Qui tam whistleblower action against your employer, call the Pennsylvania Qui tam lawyers of the renowned Philadelphia Employment Law Firm of Sidney L. Gold & Associates at 215-569-1999 or contact us online.