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Under the False Claims Act, whistleblowers receive a portion of the amount recovered in a qui tam lawsuit, usually between 15% and 30%. In major cases, this may amount to a multi-million dollar whistleblower reward. The percentage typically depends on whether the Department of Justice intervenes in the case and the significance of the contribution the whistleblower makes to the case’s prosecution.
Government intervention in a qui tam action typically increases the chance of a successful outcome, but often decreases the potential percentage awarded to the whistleblower to between 15% and 25%. After a successful case is concluded, the whistleblower negotiates the percentage with the government with assistance from her qui tam attorney. The court is charged with assigning the whistleblower reward if an agreement cannot be reached. However, if the whistleblower continues with the case after the government has declined to intervene, she stands to collect between 25% and 30% of the recovered sum in a successful case.
Not all whistleblowers are entitled to the minimum 15% share of the recovery. In fact, whistleblowers convicted of a crime tied to the fraud they are reporting receive no reward at all. Moreover, a whistleblower whose case is based on publicly available information or who is held to have “planned or initiated” the fraud may receive substantially less than 15% of the recovered sum.
Under the False Claims Act, convicted defendants in qui tam actions are liable for triple the government’s loss plus an additional fine ranging between $5,500 and $11,000 per false claim. However, the government may reach a settlement with the defendant that is substantially less than the maximum possible penalty, usually forgoing the punitive fines and accepting between two and three times the government losses. The percentage for whistleblower compensation is taken from the settlement amount, not from the maximum penalty. If you believe the settlement reached is unreasonable, you may object, but the likelihood of successfully challenging the government settlement is very small except under rare, egregious circumstances.
According to the Department of Justice, the average whistleblower reward in successful qui tam cases is around 17%.
If you have knowledge of a fraud or false claim against the government, please contact our qui tam lawyers today. Kenney & McCafferty attorneys will consult with you about your case, without obligation. All communications with Kenney & McCafferty attorneys during these consultation services are confidential and protected by the attorney-client privilege.