FALSE CLAIMS ACT
The Federal False Claims Act (FCA) is the federal law which allows a private plaintiff (called a “Relator”) who discovers that the United States was defrauded by a government contractor, to bring a “qui tam” lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the government to recover improperly paid funds and penalize the contractor for its fraud and misrepresentations. Many states and localities also have their own false claims acts. The federal FCA has been frequently used to bring claims against health care providers who defraud Medicare or Medicaid, or against defense contractors who defraud the Department of Defense. The FCA has even been used to recover funds from contractor-employers who defraud the government by falsely certifying that they pay prevailing Davis-Bacon wages and benefits to their construction workers when they do not.
The FCA allows a Relator who is successful in recovering government funds, to obtain between 15-30% of the United States’ recovery as a “Relator’s Share,” the amount depending partly on whether the government intervenes in the case. In fiscal year 2019, the United States recovered over $3 Billion in settlements and judgments, $2.1 Billion of which came from private qui tam lawsuits filed by relators.
In addition to the qui tam provisions, the FCA also contains anti-retaliation provisions, which provide a cause of action against a government contractor who retaliates against an employee that blows the whistle on his or her employer’s fraud.