After discovering evidence that your employer has committed fraud against the federal government, you may feel motivated to file a qui tam lawsuit. While a qui tam can help the government recover damages, not everyone can bring this kind of action in court.
FindLaw explains three different factors which may prevent a person from carrying out a qui tam.
Nature of the information
Whether you can bring a qui tam action depends on whether you are the original source of information showing fraudulent activity. The disclosure of possible fraud could have already come from a government legal proceeding or a hearing that the government is a party to. In such instances, you could not file a qui tam suit.
Sometimes the media reports that a business has defrauded the federal government. However, it is possible to bring a qui tam action if you disclosed the information in the first place and the media is using your disclosure as the source.
The False Claims Act establishes fraudulent claims against the government as crimes and empowers citizens to file qui tam actions as relators. However, a person cannot bring a qui tam if a court has previously found that person guilty of a violation of the FCA.
Another qui tam
It is possible that someone else has commenced action on the same criminal matter as you. You cannot become a relator if another person has filed a qui tam action ahead of you. In addition, the government may have already become a party to a legal proceeding regarding the same issue.
Checking out possible obstacles to filing a qui tam lawsuit may help you understand what actions to take in your situation.