There has been an explosion in the Qui Tam litigation in the healthcare industry, as well as other industries dependent upon government payment. Qui Tam litigation allows private parties, frequently disgruntled employees (and more frequently disgruntled ex-employees) or competitors to file suit to recover damages on behalf of the government. The complaints are filed under seal and disclosed to the government with the hope that the government will assume the investigation and prosecution of the suit. Under the False Claims Act, private citizens may qualify for a portion of the eventual recovery if the following conditions exist:
1. The private citizens (known as "relators") made a pre-filing disclosure of the allegations to the government; and
2. The relator is the original source of the allegations in the event the allegations through transactions are ultimately publicly disclosed, with the purpose of this requirement being that the relator be the initial reason that the suit is being pursued.
Unfortunately, these rules and procedures were often used by private citizens to present "kitchen sink" charges or allegations for government review, with the hope that something would stick.
In Rockwell International Corp. v. United States (a non-healthcare but nevertheless a government contracting case) the US Supreme Court clarified these rules and limits the "kitchen sink" technique by holding that the relators not the original source simply because the relator might have been the original source as to some claims which were investigated but not pursued by the government.