The federal False Claims Act imposes liability on persons and companies who defraud federal government programs. False Claims Act lawsuits can be initiated by the government or by individual whistleblowers, known as “qui tam” plaintiffs or “relators.” Whistleblowers are incentivized by potential bounties of between 10 and 30% of the government’s recovery in a False Claims Act case. The False Claims Act currently imposes mandatory statutory penalties ranging from a minimum of $5,500 to $11,000 per claim (with that amount set to increase by an as yet unknown amount in FY 2016). What is more, the False Claims Act requires a court to treble the amount of actual damages caused by the violations. As a result, companies can quickly face multimillion dollar liability for knowingly presenting false claims to the government. In fact, 2015 marked the sixth year in a row that the federal government recovered over $3 billion in civil settlements and judgments under the False Claims Act (with a record $5.7 billion recovery in 2014). In addition to facing monetary penalties, individuals and companies can face exclusion from government programs (such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the ability to bid on government contracts) as well as criminal liability for False Claims Act violations. Most states, including many of those in which Parker Poe’s clients are located, have their own state False Claims Acts, potentially subjecting individuals and companies to additional liability.
Parker Poe has a robust False Claims Act investigations and defense practice, including attorneys from our government investigations, litigation, and health care groups. Our attorneys have experience handling matters on behalf of the government as well as in private practice, including a former federal prosecutor who prosecuted major health care False Claims Act matters. Our team has experience serving clients in a variety of industries, including health care and life sciences (defending, among other things, the Anti-kickback Statute, Stark Law and up-coding violations), defense contracting, and the financial services industry (housing or mortgage fraud). We have a proven track record of success helping clients prevent state and federal False Claims Act violations to begin with as well as to avoid prosecution and negotiate reduced fines and penalties when such violations do arise.