False Claims Act in Chicago

Skilled Federal False Claims Act and Qui Tam Attorneys Representing Relators and Defendants

What is the Federal False Claims Act?

The Federal False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733) is a law that imposes liability on individuals and companies who defraud governmental programs. The law includes a "qui tam" provision that allows citizens, who are not affiliated with the government, to file a lawsuit on behalf of the United States when they have direct knowledge of fraud against the government.

The False Claims Act was created during the Civil War and signed into law by Abraham Lincoln, with the original purpose of fighting fraud against the United States defense industry. Since that time, the False Claims Act has become one of the government's most powerful tools in combatting fraud against the government.

What is a "whistleblower" and are they incentivized?

Under the False Claims Act, a private citizen who files an action on behalf of the government is called the "relator" (informally, a "whistleblower"). In order to encourage whistleblowers to come forward and report fraud to the government, the False Claims Act offers them a percentage of any reward recovered from an ensuing lawsuit, usually in the range of 15 to 30%.

The False Claims Act also has an anti-retaliation provision, which allows a whistleblower to recover, in addition to the reward for reporting fraud, double damages plus attorney fees for any acts of retaliation for reporting fraud against the government.

The False Claims Act Covers a Wide Range of Fraudulent Activities

The False Claims Act is broad and covers a wide range of fraudulent activities. It includes any false or fraudulent claim for payment made, either directly or indirectly, to the federal government. For example, a claim under the False Claims Act could be triggered as a result of the following activities:

· False certification claims - when a person or business knowingly makes or uses a false statement or record to obtain payment from the government.

· Mischarge and overcharge claims - when a person or business knowingly presents a false or fraudulent claim to obtain payment from the federal government.

· Reverse false claims - when a person or business knowingly and improperly retains or conceals an overpayment from the federal government.

In addition, there are numerous types of cases that can trigger liability under the False Claims Act, such as:

  • Health care fraud
  • Medicare and Medicaid fraud
  • Government loan fraud
  • Construction contract fraud
  • Defense contract fraud

Why do I need legal representation in a False Claims Act lawsuit?

If you have evidence of government fraud, it is important that you speak with a knowledgeable False Claims Act attorney as quickly as possible to determine if you have a good case before you blow the whistle.

The False Claims Act has a first-to-file rule, which means that only the first person to file a case concerning fraudulent activity is entitled to a whistleblower reward. If you file your case after another whistleblower files a case concerning the same fraudulent activity, you can lose your right to receive a reward.

The False Claims Act is complex and cases involving allegations of government fraud require detailed legal analysis and investigation into the fraudulent conduct. Two factors determine the strength of a whistleblower case: (1) convincing evidence of fraudulent activity and (2) significant financial loss to the government.

All False Claims Act cases must be filed confidentially, under seal, which means that you cannot disclose anything about the case to anyone except the federal government. Furthermore, a lawyer must file your False Claims Act case or it may be dismissed. Why? As a relator, you are actually representing the United States in the lawsuit and a non-lawyer cannot represent the United States.

Due to the complexity of the False Claims Act rules, it is important that you have legal representation from the beginning to ensure that you receive whistleblower protection.

To learn more about False Claims Act litigation or to schedule a confidential consultation about a potential qui tam lawsuit, please contact our office.