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Awards in Qui Tam Actions

Qui tam actions carry with them the potential for substantial monetary judgments, a portion of which will go to the person who initiated the action. The following is an overview of damages, penalties, and awards in connection with qui tam actions.

Damages and Penalties

A defendant found liable in an action under the False Claims Act is liable to the federal government for three times the amount of monetary damages the government sustained, plus a penalty (called "treble damages"). If the defendant fully cooperated with the government's investigation and turned over all information about the wrongdoing within thirty days of learning about said wrongdoing, the defendant's damage liability will be reduced to twice the amount of damages sustained.

In addition to the damages set out above, a defendant found liable will be required to pay a penalty for each false claim submitted. The penalty is set by the court, and is an amount between $5,000 and $10,000 per claim. This penalty is set in addition to any amount fixed as damages.

Award for Bringing the Suit

The False Claims Act provides a significant monetary incentive for bringing a qui tam action. The person who initiates a successful qui tam suit receives a portion of the penalty and damage award. This award is:

  • No more than 10% if the government pursued the action and the action is based on information brought out in a public report or testimony
  • Between 15% and 25% if the government pursued the action, depending on the extent of participation by the person who initiated the suit
  • Between 25% and 30% if the government does not participate in the action

The exact amount of the award is fixed by the court that hears the case. Additionally, if the person bringing the qui tam action is also the person responsible for the wrongdoing or fraud, the award may be reduced by the court.

Other Awards

If a successful qui tam suit is brought without the participation of the government, the defendant will be ordered to pay the expenses of the lawsuit, including the attorney's fees incurred in bringing the suit.

Getting Legal Help with a Qui Tam Action

Both the federal government and society at large have an interest in fighting fraud, which is why whistleblowers are rewarded for their part. According to the United States Department of Justice, in just one year (the fiscal year ending September 30, 2003), the awards to private citizens initiating qui tam actions was $319 million. With so much at stake, you may wish to consult an attorney to help you reach a successful conclusion to your qui tam case.

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