Each year, medical providers and federal contractors submit billions of dollars of fraudulent payment claims to the U.S. government. Unfortunately, the government accidentally pays a substantial number of those claims.
The False Claims Act (FCA) enables the U.S. government to recoup some of the money that it paid towards fraudulent claims. The FCA includes a provision that authorizes private citizens – “relators” – to file lawsuits on behalf of the government to help it recover the stolen money.
If you’re aware of any fraudulent claims that have been submitted to the U.S. government, you should immediately contact an Atlanta False Claims Act (FCA) lawyer. Federal laws protect FCA whistleblowers from retaliation. Additionally, the FCA enables whistleblowers to receive up to 30% of the fines that the government collects – often millions of dollars.
The Atlanta employment dispute lawyers at Graham Scofield Injury Lawyers have successfully represented FCA whistleblowers for many years. Call us today at (404) 939-9470, or reach out through our online contact form to schedule a free case review with an Atlanta False Claims Act lawyer.
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 weren’t 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.
How Do I File A False Claims Act Lawsuit?
First, you should contact an Atlanta False Claims Act lawyer. Your lawyer will evaluate your potential claims and advise whether you should file an FCA lawsuit. If your lawyer determines that you have a strong FCA claim, they will help you file your lawsuit.
Your lawsuit will be filed in U.S federal court under seal. In other words, it’s initially unavailable to the public. During that time, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) will evaluate it. Then, the DOJ will notify you whether it will intervene in your case.
If the DOJ intervenes, the success rate is much higher because you have the DOJ’s resources on your side. However, your share of the potential reward is lower than it would be if you pursued the claim on your own. If the DOJ doesn’t intervene, you can still pursue the case on your own. Your share of the potential reward is higher. However, your success rate is lower because you don’t have the DOJ on your team.
Your case is unsealed once the DOJ completes its investigation. That means your case can be publicly disclosed. From there, your lawyer 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 FCA 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 recouped money.
In 2018, the total value of all FCA whistleblower settlements in which the government didn’t 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 recouped money.
The FCA Prohibits Retaliation Against Whistleblowers
An employer may not retaliate against its employee for blowing the whistle regarding actual or potential fraud under the FCA. 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 wasn’t fraud.
An FCA 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: This includes out-of-pocket expenses that the whistleblower retaliation victim incurred, 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 are also recoverable.
Graham Scofield Injury Lawyers Can Help
If you believe that your employer violated the False Claims Act, or your employer is retaliating against you for whistleblowing, we urge you to contact a False Claims Act lawyer at Graham Scofield Injury Lawyers. Our FCA attorneys have successfully fought for the rights of American workers for over three decades. We will help you obtain justice.
Call us today at (404) 939-9470, or reach out through our online contact form to schedule a free case review with an Atlanta False Claims Act lawyer.