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What is a Qui Tam?


Qui tam (commonly pronounced as “kwày tæm”) is an abbreviation from the Latin “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro sic ipso in hoc parte sequitur” meaning “who as well for the king as for himself sues in this matter.”

Black’s Law Dictionary defines a qui tam action as “an action brought by an informer, under a statute which establishes a penalty for the commission or omission of a certain act, and provides that the same shall be recoverable in a civil action, part of the penalty to go to any person who will bring such action and the remainder to the state or some other institution.”

Qui tam is a provision of federal and state False Claims Acts that allows private citizens to file a lawsuit in the name of the federal and some state governments against individuals and entities who fraudulently obtain government funds while claiming an award in the event of a recovery.

Federal and state qui tam statutes have been enacted in order to effectively identify and prosecute government procurement and program fraud and recover revenue lost as a result of the fraud.

The qui tam provision has had the effect of privatizing government legal remedies by allowing private citizens to act as “private attorneys general” in the effort to prosecute government procurement and program fraud. Most of the recent successes in qui tam cases have been against healthcare and pharmaceutical companies. For example, in September 2009, the Federal Government announced the largest recovery ever in a qui tam case – over $2 Billion Dollars against Pfizer, Inc. (a case in which EY attorneys represented 2 of the whistleblowers). Other successful qui tam recoveries have been against defense contractors, energy companies, financial institutions, public education providers, NASA contractors, and construction and public transportation. Recoveries under the federal FCA along exceed $14 Billion Dollars.


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