Civil Rights & Constitutional Law
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November 18, 2013
• Practice Areas • Practices • False Claims Act (Qui Tams)
The False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. §§ 3729) imposes liability on persons and companies who defraud the federal government, and offers various incentives to those whistleblowers who discover and report it.
Fraud under the False Claims Act can occur in any of several ways. Your employer may affirmatively present a "false claim," such as when a doctor submits a fraudulent claim for Medicare reimbursement (healthcare fraud), or when a defense contractor inflates the number of hours his employees actually worked on a project. But False Claims Act liability also arises if a person or company seeks to "avoid or decrease" an obligation to the government, or merely creates a "false record or statement" related to a fraudulent claim.
Importantly, the False Claims Act includes a so-called "qui tam" provision that allows "whistleblowers" to file lawsuits against the offending persons or companies. Although, technically, such suits are brought on the federal government's behalf, successful whistleblowers stand to receive a portion (typically 15-25 percent) of any damages recovered. Such damages can often be substantial, since the Act provides for a tripling of the government's damages as well as for civil penalties of between $5,500 and $11,000 per violation.
If you're like most people, however, you're worried about your job-and whether you'll still have one if you blow the whistle. Because Congress wanted to encourage whistleblowers to come forward, it didn't want to place them in an untenable situation. That's why another provision of the FCA (31 U.S.C. § 3730(h)) prohibits employer retaliation against whistleblowers, and provides for reinstatement, double back pay plus interest, and special damages (including attorneys' fees) to persons who endure retaliation.
The False Claims Act is a very technical statute, and meeting all its conditions can be tricky business.
For example, if the federal government is already "on to" your employer's nefarious activities—say, if someone else has already reported them—then you are not considered a whistleblower and will receive no credit or protection if you report them.
In addition, the cases have to filed under seal, with particular disclosure requirements to the government. And persuading the government to take up the cause and compensate you generously are all part of the big challenge of these cases.
So don't take any chances. If you suspect your employer is up to no good, let The Chandra Law Firm LLC's experienced False Claims Act attorneys help you decide the best course of action.
In addition to being a former Director of Law for the City of Cleveland, where he defended False Claims Act actions, founding and managing partner Subodh Chandra was an Assistant U.S. Attorney. As a federal prosecutor, Chandra prosecuted numerous federal crimes—many of which were the kinds of crimes that can give rise to False Claims Act liability, such as healthcare fraud. Indeed, as a prosecutor, Chandra worked closely in healthcare fraud investigations with the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who handle False Claims Act cases for the U.S. Department of Justice.
Such cases included securing convictions against over 23 physicians, chiropractors, podiatrists, and lab owners for kickback schemes. For this work, Chandra received commendations from then FBI director Robert Mueller and the FBI special-agent-in-charge of the Cleveland office of the FBI.
Now, as a civil litigator, Chandra brings those same experiences to bear on behalf of clients who have potential claims under the False Claims Act.
The Chandra Law Firm LLC's recent False Claims Act activities include securing settlements against a physician's practice for healthcare fraud and pursuit of multiple False Claims Act cases in federal courts in Ohio.
You'll want The Chandra Law Firm LLC on your side as you navigate the False Claims Act's tough terrain. You can reach our firm, which serves clients throughout Ohio and the nation, by calling 216-578-1700 or by filling out our online contact form.