Railroad workers in Connecticut may uncover evidence that the companies they work for are actually defrauding the government with false expense claims, bogus charges or bills for work that was never performed. While this information can be disturbing, employees can also act to help the government recover money while obtaining a part of the proceeds of the claim themselves. Called a qui tam action, this kind of lawsuit is filed by a whistleblower in the railroad or another industry to put a stop to fraud and recover the money that was illegitimately obtained.
Anyone with knowledge of a false claim made to the government can initiate a qui tam action, although most whistleblowers have direct knowledge of the fraud due to exposure on the job. These kinds of complaints can address fake charges to the government, undelivered merchandise, false claims of quality, faked testing reports or other methods of cheating. The case is initially confidential and not released to the public for at least 60 days. This gives the government the chance to investigate the claims involved and decide whether it wants to intervene directly in the case.
If the government takes up the case, it holds primary responsibility for prosecuting the companies or individuals involved in the fraud. When the government chooses to not pursue the claim, the individual whistleblower can still move the case forward against fraudulent railroads. While the fraud is deliberate in some cases, qui tam actions can also be brought to address cases of reckless disregard for truth or deliberate ignorance of the facts.
In many cases, railroad whistleblowers can recover substantial damages in a proven qui tam case. Railway workers with knowledge of fraud may consult with an attorney about claims they bring forward under the False Claims Act, including specific provisions for transportation and infrastructure fraud.