Who Can File a Qui Tam Lawsuit?

Sometimes, organizations and individuals engage in fraudulent activity against the US government and federal organizations. If an individual or organization becomes aware of these activities, they may be able to act as a whistleblower, also known as a relator, and take action on behalf of the US government. In return, they may be able to receive a portion of or all of the damages awarded in the case. A variety of individuals may file a lawsuit against a party involved in fraud against the US government. This type of legal action is referred to as "qui tam" litigation.


Employees are some of the most common types of relators.

Sometimes, current employees may file a qui tam lawsuit as a last resort, after attempting to resolve the issue at question multiple times through the company or organization itself.

Former employees may also choose to file qui tam action. Employees may have quit their position after trying to stop the fraud and choose to pursue action later. Or, an employee may have been wrongfully terminated after taking actions in an attempt to stop the fraud.

Federal employees may face particular difficulties when attempting to file qui tam lawsuits. After filing, the federal employee is often challenged in court to determine whether he or she has standing under the False Claims Act to file the suit or if he or she instead represents a conflict of interest.


Many relators are in fact companies or entities that are in direct competition with the company who is committing the fraud. Sometimes, an individual employed by the competitor company may bring the lawsuit because of specific knowledge of the fraud that is being committed. Subcontractors may also file qui tam lawsuits against contractors who engage in fraudulent activities.

State and Local Governments

In 1986, the False Claims Act was amended to give state and local governments the power to pursue whistleblower claims in qui tam actions. For example, since the amendment passed, many local and state governments have filed suit against both contractors and medical providers to recover finances lost as a result of schemes in these areas. Before the amendment, these governments were virtually powerless to take this type of action.

Other Relators

Other entities and organizations may file qui tam lawsuits. These organizations can include:

Public interest groups

Private organizations


The False Claims Act has a particular provision relating to "public disclosure," leading some challengers to claim that these organizations can not meet this provision and therefore do not qualify to file a suit. If a relator can not meet the public disclosure provision, the case may be dismissed from court. However, the Act still allows a qui tam lawsuit even if public disclosure of the fraud was made before the suit was filed if the relationship was an original source of the information.

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Source by James Witherspoon