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Federal False Claims Act

In the middle of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the False Claims Act, enabling private persons to file qui tam lawsuits in the name of the government to stop wartime profiteers from defrauding the government by submitting false claims for goods and services provided under government contracts. Today, the Lincoln Law is alive and well, and whistleblowers across the country use the law to battle health care fraud committed by doctors and hospitals submitting false or fraudulent claims to Medicare.

The Atlanta law firm of Stacey Evans Law helps whistleblowers throughout Georgia file lawsuits under the False Claims Act and receive a portion of the government’s recovery as a reward. Learn more below about how the False Claims Act works. If you suspect the medical facility where you work is engaged in Medicare fraud, call Stacey Evans Law for immediate assistance.

Violations Under the False Claims Act

A person violates the False Claims Act by committing any of the following acts:

  • Knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval;
  • Knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim;
  • Has possession, custody, or control of property or money used, or to be used, by the government and knowingly delivers, or causes to be delivered, less than all of that money or property;
  • Is authorized to make or deliver a document certifying receipt of property used, or to be used, by the government and, intending to defraud the government, makes or delivers the receipt without completely knowing that the information on the receipt is true;
  • Knowingly buys, or receives as a pledge of an obligation or debt, public property from an officer or employee of the government, or a member of the armed forces, who lawfully may not sell or pledge property;
  • Knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the government, or knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the government; or
  • Conspires to commit any of the above acts.

A person found guilty of violating the False Claims Act is assessed a civil penalty between $5,000 and $10,000 (adjusted for inflation) per false claim. In addition, the person must pay three times the amount of damages sustained by the government. This triple damages provision can be reduced to double damages in certain cases, but even so, liability for violating the False Claims Act has been known to run into the millions of dollars for defendants engaged in large-scale or long-time fraud.

Average Citizens Can Bring Civil Actions for False Claims

The False Claims Act allows private persons to bring qui tam actions under the law. A qui tam lawsuit is one brought by a private person on behalf of the government. A qui tam plaintiff, known as a relator, brings the lawsuit for themselves and the United States government, and the lawsuit is brought in the name of the government.

The complaint is not served on the defendant right away. First, the Attorney General has up to 60 days to investigate and decide whether to intervene and take over the prosecution of the case. If the Attorney General intervenes, the relator can still continue as a party in the lawsuit, but the government will take over the primary responsibility of prosecuting the case. If the Attorney General declines to intervene, the relator can proceed with the lawsuit personally.

If the Attorney General intervenes in the case and is successful against the defendant, the relator will receive between 15 and 25% of the proceeds or settlement, depending on the extent to which the relator substantially contributed to the case. If the relator takes on the case without the Attorney General intervening and succeeds, the relator gets to keep 25 to 30% of the proceeds or settlement.

Limitations on Qui Tam Plaintiffs

Typically, whistleblowers are people with inside information about the fraud that is not generally known to the public. If the relator got their information primarily from other sources, such as government investigations, legal proceedings, or reports in the news media, the court can only award up to ten percent to the relator. The relator, in some cases, might also have to be the original source of the publicly-disclosed information or have independent knowledge of it to share in the recovery.

If the relator is also someone who was involved in planning and initiating the violation, then the court can also reduce the relator’s share as the judge deems appropriate. If the relator was convicted of criminal conduct related to the violation, the relator gets dismissed from the case and cannot share in any of the recovery. Finally, the court can award attorney’s fees to the defendant if the government doesn’t intervene and the court finds the relator’s action was clearly frivolous, clearly vexatious, or brought primarily for purposes of harassment.

The attorneys at Stacey Evans Law can help make sure you understand these limitations and counsel you on what type of reward you might expect should you decide to move forward as a whistleblower.

No Retaliation Against Whistleblowers

Potential whistleblowers often worry that they are putting their job on the line by deciding to come forward with information about fraud committed by their employer. The False Claims Act protects whistleblowers from termination, discrimination or any negative treatment at work based on filing a lawsuit or participating in a government investigation. Individuals who are retaliated against can sue their employer to get their job back and recover money damages for back pay or other harm they suffered from the retaliation.

Call Stacey Evans Law for Help With False Claims Act Cases in Georgia

Stacey Evans Law represents whistleblowers in all aspects of False Claims Act litigation, including joining in a lawsuit with the Attorney General, taking on the litigation as lead, and handling any retaliation claims. We’ll work to protect your rights and see that you are justly rewarded for doing the right thing to expose and stop health care fraud.

If you have facts regarding Medicare fraud or suspect health care fraud is going on at your medical facility, call Stacey Evans Law at 404-850-6750. Based in Atlanta, we serve clients throughout Georgia and are the firm to turn to for determined, dedicated and dogged assistance fighting health care fraud.

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