The False Claims Act stipulates that whistleblowers (known as “relators”) be rewarded with a percentage of the money that the government recovers as a result of their qui tam lawsuits. Under the False Claims Act, the relator is entitled to a reward of 15 percent to 25 percent of what the government recovers, if the government joins the qui tam case. If the government declines to join the qui tam lawsuit and the whistleblower proceeds against the defendant anyway, the relator is entitled to a reward of 25 percent to 30 percent of the recovery.
The actual whistleblower reward depends on many factors, including the quality and detail of the work done on the case by the whistleblower’s lawyer. Phillips & Cohen have earned their clients more than $730 million in whistleblower rewards. That’s one-fourth of the $2.8 billion that the government has awarded to all whistleblowers.
Under the False Claims Act, the government may recover up to three times the amount of money it lost as a result of the defendant's fraud. In cases that settle before trial, the settlement is typically less than three times the loss.
The reward for the relator, or whistleblower, is calculated based upon the amount the government recovers, not the actual losses. Whistleblowers’ rewards are determined by the contributions to the qui tam case made by the whistleblowers and their attorneys. So individuals who are considering filing a qui tam lawsuit should consider carefully their decision about whom to hire as their lawyers. The choice of lawyers makes a big difference in the success of a case as well as the whistleblower's reward. See "Pitfalls to avoid" for points to consider before filing a qui tam lawsuit.