Legal Definition of Qui Tam

Qui Tam is a latin abbreviation for "Who sues on behalf of the King as well as for himself."6 min read

Qui Tam

Latin abbreviation for "Who sues on behalf of the King as well as for himself." An action under a statute that establishes penalties for certain acts or omissions that can be brought by an informer or and in which a portion of the penalties, fines, awards can be awarded the whistleblower.

Who as well. When a statute imposes a penalty, for the doing or not doing an act, and gives that penalty in part to whosoever will sue for the same, and the other part to the commonwealth, or some charitable, literary, or other institution, and makes it recoverable by action, such actions are called qui tam actions, the plaintiff describing himself as suing as well for the commonwealth, for example, as for himself.

Qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act: As expressed by a court discussing the original version of the Act, qui tam actions are based on the theory "that one of the least expensive and most effective means of preventing frauds on the Treasury is to make the perpetrators of them liable to actions by private persons acting, if you please, under the strong stimulus of personal ill will or the hope of gain." United States v. Griswold, 24 F. 361, 366 (D. Or. 1885) (quoted, inter alia, in Quinn, 14 F.3d at 649 (emphasis added)). It can be argued that monies paid in settlement to a relator outside of the framework of an action brought under the Act should have an equivalent deterrent effect to monies paid in settlement subsequent to the filing of the suit. We believe, however, that the Act's deterrent objectives would be diluted substantially by the enforcement of prefiling releases.

To see this, one need only assume that, but for the filing of a qui tam claim, the government would be significantly less likely to learn of the allegations of fraud. Because Congress itself has made this very assumption, see Senate Report, supra, at 4-7, reprinted in U.S.C.C.A.N. at 5269-72, we find it a reasonable starting point. When the qui tam relator files suit, the relator stands to receive only a percentage of the eventual proceeds from the action; at most, this will amount to 30 percent of the recovery. See 31 U.S.C.A. S 3730(d) (West Supp. 1994). Accordingly, in settlement negotiations, both the government and the relator will have incentives to maximize the expected gross recovery.

It is commonly recognized that the central purpose of the qui tam provisions of the FCA is to "set up incentives to supplement government enforcement" of the Act, Quinn, 14 F.3d at 649, by "encourag[ing] insiders privy to a fraud on the government to blow the whistle on the crime," Wang v. FMC Corp., 975 F.2d 1412, 1419 (9th Cir. 1992). The history and structure of the FCA and its qui tam provisions is described in United States ex rel. Springfield Terminal Ry. Co. v. Quinn, 14 F.3d 645, 649-55 (D.C. Cir. 1994); United States ex rel. Kelly v. Boeing Co., 9 F.3d 743, 745-47 (9th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 114 S. Ct. 1125 (1994); United States ex rel. Stinson, Lyons, Gerlin & Bustamante, P.A. v. Prudential Ins. Co., 944 F.2d 1149, 1152-1154 (3d Cir. 1991); John T. Boese, Civil False Claims and Qui Tam Actions (1993).

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