Many Louisiana companies work with the federal government, and are paid by the government for their goods and services. If the company involved submits a false claim to the government, it may constitute fraud or another actionable crime. Any individual who has information about such false claims may file a qui tam action. If the government prevails, the person who brought the action may be entitled to a percentage of the funds recovered.
A qui tam action alleges that a person or organization has submitted a false claim to the government. Examples of false claims include charging the government for services that were never provided, overcharging the government, selling something but not delivering it, failure to test a product properly, making false statements about product quality or any other scheme designed to defraud, steal from or cheat the government. It is not required in a qui tam case to demonstrate that the defendant intended to submit a false claim. Liability exists if a false claim was submitted knowingly, deliberately ignorantly, or with reckless disregard for the truth of the claim. The focus in a qui tam case is on conduct, not intent.
When an individual brings a qui tam action, the contents of the action are confidential. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will receive a copy of the complaint and may intervene in the case. If the government does not intervene, the person who brought the action has the choice whether or not to continue.
Louisiana employees who believe their employers have submitted false claims should schedule a meeting with a lawyer. A lawyer who is familiar with qui tam actions might be able to help by drafting and filing a complaint on the client’s behalf or by communicating with the relevant government official.