Each year, unethical medical providers and federal contractors submit billions of dollars of fraudulent payment claims to the federal government. The federal government unfortunately pays a substantial number of those claims because it doesn’t have sufficient resources to thoroughly investigate each claim at the time the claim is submitted.
The federal government cuts its losses by utilizing a law called the False Claims Act to recoup the money that it paid towards fraudulent claims. The False Claims Act includes a provision that authorizes people not affiliated with the government, called “relators” to file lawsuits on behalf of the government to help the government recover the money that was stolen from it.
If you are aware of any fraudulent claims that have been submitted to the federal government, you should immediately contact an Atlanta False Claims Act lawyer. The skilled trial lawyers at Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC have successfully represented False Claims Act whistleblowers for many years. Federal law protects False Claims Act whistleblowers from retaliation and enables the whistleblowers to receive up to 30% of the fines that the government collects – often millions of dollars.
What Activities are Prohibited by the False Claims Act?
The False Claims Act (“FCA”) imposes liability on a person or organization that:
- Submits a claim to the federal government that he/she/it knows (or should know) is false. (e.g., a medical provider that submits a Medicare claim for services that were not actually provided to a patient).
- Submits a false record in order to obtain payment. (e.g., a defense contractor makes a false certification of regulatory and statutory compliance in order to win a contract bid); or,
- Obtains money from the feds that he/she/it is not entitled and then uses false statements in order to retain the money. (e.g., a hospital that receives an overpayment from the federal government towards its Medicare claims that subsequently submits a false cost report to avoid refunding the overpayment).
What is the Procedure for Filing a False Claims Act Lawsuit?
The first step is to contact a lawyer. Your lawyer will evaluate your potential claims and advise you whether you should file a False Claims Act lawsuit. If your lawyer determines that you have a strong False Claims Act case, he or she will help you file your lawsuit.
Your lawsuit will be filed in federal court under seal which means that it is initially unavailable to the public. Once your lawsuit is filed, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) will evaluate your lawsuit over the course of several months. At the end of that investigation period, the DOJ will notify you whether it will pursue the case.
If the DOJ accepts your case, the amount of your potential reward is less, but the success rate tends to be higher in cases that the DOJ accepts. If the DOJ doesn’t accept your case, you can still pursue your case on your own, and the potential reward is higher, but it is sometimes a sign that the DOJ felt that you did not have a strong case.
Once the DOJ completes its investigation, your case is unsealed and it can be publicly disclosed. From there, your attorney will spend many months preparing your case for trial. At some point, the defendant will make an offer to settle your case. If your case doesn’t settle, it will proceed to trial.
How Much Money is Recovered Each Year in False Claims Act Lawsuits?
According to the Department of Justice, in 2018, the total value of all False Claims Act whistleblower settlements and judgments in which the government intervened was $1.9 billion dollars. The relators’ share in those cases totaled $269 million. That means that the relators recovered approximately 14% of the total money that the federal government recouped.
In 2018, the total value of all False Claims Act whistleblower settlements in which the government did not intervene was $118 million dollars. The relators share in those cases totaled $32.6 million. That means that the relators recovered approximately 27% of the total money that the federal government recouped.
False Claims Act Retaliation
It is against the law for any employer to retaliate against its employee for blowing the whistle regarding actual or potential fraud under the False Claims Act. 31 U.S.C. § 3730 protects whistleblowers so long as they have a “good faith” belief that fraud has occurred – even if it turns out that there was no fraud.
A False Claims Act whistleblower retaliation victim is eligible to recover the following types of damages:
- Lost back pay: back pay covers any wages, salary, or benefits that the whistleblower victim lost as a result of the employer’s retaliatory actions. Whistleblower retaliation victims under 31 U.S.C. § 3730 are also eligible to recover interest on lost back pay.
- 2 times the amount of back pay: 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h)(2) provides a 2x multiplier for back pay as an additional protection for whistleblower retaliation victims.
- Special damages: special damages include all out-of-pocket expenses that the whistleblower retaliation victim incurred as a result of the retaliation, such as medical bills. In most U.S. jurisdictions, special damages also include compensation for emotional distress caused by the employer’s retaliatory actions.
- Attorneys’ fees and costs can also usually be recovered.
Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC Can Help
If you believe that your employer has violated the False Claims Act, or you’ve blown the whistle on fraud and your employer is retaliating against you, we urge you to contact Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC. Our attorneys have successfully fought for the rights of American workers for over three decades. We will listen to your story, help you find your voice, and recover the compensation that you deserve.