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Law Office of Robert M. Turkewitz

Dedication, Diligence and Experience

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FALSE CLAIMS ACT

If you are aware of any act committed in violation of the False Claims Act, or have suffered retaliation for investigating or reporting such activities and wish to know your rights and obligations, contact Rob to arrange a free and confidential initial consultation. (CONTACT ROB HERE)

The False Claims Act ("FCA"), 31 U.S.C. 3729, et seq., was originally enacted by Congress during the Civil War to combat rampant fraud committed against the government by military contractors. The law provided for civil and criminal penalties against persons who: committed fraud against the government. Notably, the law allowed whistleblowers who disclosed information about the fraudulent conduct to recover a portion of the moneys recovered.

The False Claims Act creates liability against any person who: 1) knowingly presents to the government a false claim for payment or approval; 2) knowingly uses a false record or statement to get a claim paid or approved; 3) conspires to get a false claim allowed or paid; 4) fraudulently withholds money or property from the government; 5) fraudulently certifies receipt of property used or to be used by the government without regard to its accuracy; 6) purchases or receives a government pledge, debt, obligation or public property knowing that the government official from which it is received is not authorized; and 7) knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement to conceal, avoid, or decrease an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government.

Under the False Claims Act, violators may be liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty between $5,000 and $10,000, plus three times the amount of damages sustained by the Government because of the defendant's act.

The False Claims Act allows whistleblowers to recover 15 to 25% of the recovery plus costs and attorneys' fees if the government intervenes, and 25 to 30% plus costs and attorneys' fees if the government does not intervene.

The False Claims Act has been applied not only to situations involving procurement fraud, but also Medicare/Medicaid fraud, government insured mortgage fraud and instances involving pollution by government contractors.

The False Claims Act also creates a private right of action for employees who have suffered retaliation for investigating or reporting violations. In order to prove a retailiation claim, an employee must show: 1) the employer is subject to the FCA; 2) the employee engaged in protected activity under the FCA; and 3) the employee suffered an adverse employment action. There is an inference of causation between the protected activity and the adverse action.

It is important to keep in mind that an employee does not generally have to file a qui tam action in order to be protected from retaliation under the FCA; the fact that an employee is investigating matters that could lead to a viable FCA action can be enough. Adverse employment actions can include discharge, demotion, suspension, threats or harassment by an employer.

Relief available under the anti-retaliation provisions of the False Claims Act includes reinstatement, double back pay with interest, litigation costs, reasonable attorney's fees, and compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the retaliation, which under certain circumstances may also include damages for any emotional distress the employee suffered as a result of the retaliation.

The time period for bringing an action for retaliation under the False Claims Act can vary depending on the law of the state where the retaliation occurred. It is therefore important to act promptly to protect your rights under the False Claims Act.

If you are aware of any act committed in violation of the False Claims Act, or have suffered retaliation for investigating or reporting such activities and wish to know your rights and obligations, contact Rob to arrange a free and confidential initial consultation. (CONTACT ROB HERE)