Under the False Claims Act, private individuals and companies can file suit on behalf of the government against entities that have defrauded the government. Whistleblowers who bring False Claims Act cases are entitled to 15-30% of any recoveries and are protected against retaliation.
What Is The False Claims Act?
Congress first enacted the False Claims Act during the Civil War as a vehicle to recover damages from those who sold faulty supplies to the Union Army.
The False Claims Act was drastically amended several times in order to increase its effectiveness of fighting fraud against the federal government.
Today, it is one of the most rewarding and protective whistleblower laws in the country, allowing individuals to report fraud that occurs against the United States government and against state governments under state False Claims Acts.
Four Violations Of The False Claims Act
Before blowing the whistle, it is important to understand what qualifies as a violation under the False Claims Act. Here are four of these violations:
- Requesting payment from the government for fraudulent claims
- Using falsified records to obtain payment from the government
- Colluding with one or more individuals to receive payment from the government for fraudulent claims
- Failing to pay a known financial obligation to the government
The False Claims Act provides that any person who knowingly submits a false claim, or causes another to submit a false claim, to the government, is liable for three times the amount of damages sustained by the government, plus penalties of at least $5,500 per false claim.
How To File A Case Under The False Claims Act
Due to the statute of limitations, it is important to file suit under the False Claims Act in a timely manner. To begin this process, you must hire an attorney.
Your attorney will then review all of the information needed to organize and file your case. Cases that whistleblowers file under the False Claims Act are called “qui tam” lawsuits, because the whistleblower is filing on behalf of the government. At the time that the case is filed, all evidence and relevant material will also need to be provided to the government.
The False Claims Act is a “first to file” statute. After a private person brings a qui tam case under the False Claims Act, “no person other than the Government may intervene or bring a related action based on the facts underlying the pending action.” 31 U.S.C. § 3730(b)(5). In other words, only the whistleblower who first reports the fraud to the government and files a case is entitled to a whistleblower reward. In the event that a False Claims Act lawsuit has already been filed using the same evidence that you plan to offer, you may not be able to file a case or receive a share of the government’s recovery.
Whistleblower Protection And Incentive
Under the False Claims Act, whistleblowers who experience workplace retaliation are eligible to receive varying levels of relief. This relief may come in the form of:
- Double back-pay
- “Special damages” such as payment for emotional damages
- Future lost earnings
- Compensation for legal fees and case costs
Monetary Incentive Of The False Claims Act
In order to be eligible to receive a monetary award, the information and assistance provided must result in a favorable outcome of the lawsuit. When this is the case, the whistleblower is entitled to between 15%-30% of the amount recovered by the government, plus an amount for legal fees and other expenses of the case.
For common types of False Claims Act cases, click here.