The False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. § 3729, is the government’s primary weapon to combat fraud, waste, and abuse. In general, the FCA provides that any person who knowingly submits, or causes to submit, false claims to the government is liable for three times (treble damages) the government’s damages, plus a per-claim statutory penalty. FCA liability can arise in other situations, such as when someone knowingly uses a false record material to a false claim or improperly avoids an obligation to pay the government. Conspiring to commit any of these acts also is a violation of the FCA.
In addition to actions brought directly by the United States, the FCA allows private citizens to file suits on behalf of the government (called “qui tam” suits) against those who have defrauded the government. Private citizens who successfully bring qui tam actions may receive a portion of the government’s recovery—between 15-30% of the total amount recovered, depending on whether the government intervenes in the case and other relevant factors. In 1986, the FCA was amended, making it easier to seek rewards against those who have submitted false claims against the government for payment. As a result of the monies recovered under the FCA since 1986, many states have also enacted their own false claims legislation.
Each year, the government recovers billions of dollars in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud and false claims against the government—primarily in the healthcare, pharmaceutical, military defense and government contracting industries. For example, in fiscal year 2022 alone, the Department of Justice obtained more than $2.2 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud and false claims against the government.
The FCA is a complicated area, and litigation under FCA can take years to resolve. More importantly, a defendant found liable may be required to pay substantial penalties, treble damages, and significant attorney’s fees. Qui tam liability may also trigger other serious repercussions, such as criminal charges, exclusion, and debarment from future government contracting. Thus, the stakes for all sides in qui tam litigation are often monumental.
Our lawyers have decades of collective experience in False Claims Act/qui tam litigation, and have successfully represented parties in high-stakes, complex, and substantial FCA cases around the country, as both defense and plaintiff’s counsel. With our experience in both criminal and civil matters, we are uniquely qualified and positioned to represent clients in qui tam litigation and manage the challenges of FCA cases to see these cases through to their ultimate conclusion.
If you would like to contact KMK Law about an FCA matter, please complete a form here.
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