The False Claims Act (FCA) is a federal law that holds individuals and entities, such as companies and contractors, liable for defrauding government programs. It is the government’s best weapon against fraud in the U.S. Organizations such as the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have FCA programs in place to encourage good Samaritans to come forward with any information regarding fraudulent acts against the government, such as business tax evasion and healthcare fraud. If you believe you have a tip or claim under the FCA, come to Butler Wooten & Peak LLP for legal counsel.
U.S. Code Title 31, subchapter 3729, describes liability for certain acts under the False Claims Act. If anyone knows of a person or entity performing one or more of these acts, he or she has a responsibility to give the information to the government. In doing so, the person giving the tip or complaint (the “relator”) may be eligible to receive an award if the information leads to the government recovering money from the fraudster. The FCA holds any person liable who:
If you know of anyone or any company engaging in the acts listed in the FCA’s provisions, you may bring a civil action for the violation in the name of the government. You must retain an attorney for FCA cases – also known as qui tam or whistleblower claims. The law does not allow you to file these lawsuits on your own. You can file a complaint with the correct administration with a lawyer’s help.
Qui tam translates to, “Who as well for the king as for himself sues in this matter.” In a qui tam lawsuit, the plaintiff brings the suit for him/herself as well as the government. The government will review the claim and decide one of the following:
The courts will only dismiss the action if the Attorney General gives written consent for dismissal with good reason. The government has 60 days from the date of filing to review the case and make a decision, unless it orders an extension.
After the government makes its decision, the case will either continue without intervention or the government will join the case with the plaintiff. The government only chooses to intervene in about 25% of qui tam lawsuits. In these situations, the government will typically file its own claim on top of the plaintiff’s. When cases continue without intervention, the government retains the right to collect any settlement, award, back pay, or penalties the plaintiff wins. If the amount reaches a certain minimum, the plaintiff may then receive a percentage as a reward for blowing the whistle on fraud.
The False Claims Act protects whistleblowers in the U.S., keeping their identities confidential, the cases sealed, and encouraging acts of courage with award amounts. The government needs whistleblowers to detect and put an end to scams that cost the government billions of dollars every year. If you have any information that would qualify you to bring a case under the FCA, don’t hesitate to contact Butler Wooten & Peak LLP.