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Qui Tam actions
The language providing for qui tam actions under the False Claims Act is found in 31 U.S.C.A. § 3730(b)(1). To paraphrase, the subsection states that a person may bring a civil action for a violation of the act with the resulting action actually brought in the name of the government. Subsection (d) of Section 3730 is also worthy of mention because it defines the possible award to a qui tam plaintiff. The pertinent language states:
If the Government proceeds with an action brought by a person under subsection (b), such person [shall receive between 15 and 25 percent of the proceeds of the action or settlement of the claim, depending on the extent to which the person contributed to the prosecution, plus attorneys' fees and costs. If the Government does not proceed, the person may receive between 25 and 30 percent plus attorneys' fees and costs.
Therefore, it is easy to see the incentive an individual might have in initiating a suit. However, this action does have limitations.
One such restriction requires an individual to be an "original source," meaning that he/she must have direct and independent knowledge of the information on which the allegations are based. Another limitation prevents an individual from commencing a suit based on allegations or transactions already subject to a proceeding in which the government is currently a party. This measure keeps an individual from riding the government's coattails by rewarding only those individuals taking the initiative to identify fraud. While a qui tam action may seem important, is there any possible relevance to a practicing pharmacist? This question will be addressed by the following Alabama case.
United States ex. rel. Gathings v. Bruno's, Inc.