Foley & Mansfield's Qui Tam team is nationally recognized for its work with whistleblowers in cases filed under the federal False Claims Act and other laws, including state and municipal whistleblower laws. We regularly work with whistleblowers across the country on cases involving:
- Medicare fraud and Medicaid fraud
- Military contracts, and other Department of Defense matters
- "Sham" companies unlawfully set up as minority or disadvantaged businesses
- The United States Postal Service
- Other types of government contracts
Our attorneys have experience on matters ranging from ambulance companies wrongfully billing for services, to complex pharmaceutical cases involving improper marketing, to contractors overbilling for services in Iraq. Our whistleblower clients live and work in many different states and regions, and we take pride in our ability to assist clients on a nationwide level. We offer a thorough yet aggressive approach to ensuring that our clients receive the attention and care their cases deserve.
What is the False Claims Act?
Under the federal False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. §§ 3739-33) any individual or entity who submits, or causes another person or entity to submit, false claims for payment of government funds is liable for three times the amount of damages sustained by the government, plus civil penalties of $5,500 to $11,000 per claim.
The federal False Claims Act contains whistleblower or “qui tam” provisions, which allow a private individual with knowledge of past or present fraud on the federal government to sue on behalf of the government to recover damages and penalties. The individual bringing the suit is formally known as the “Relator”. If the lawsuit is successful, it not only stops the dishonest conduct but also deters similar conduct by others. In addition, the Relator may receive a substantial share of the government’s recovery – as much as 30 percent of the total amount recovered.
The False Claims Act was originally enacted by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War (hence its nickname, the “Lincoln Law) and was created to help stop fraud against the Union from dishonest contractors who sold rotten meat and sawdust-filled gunpowder to the army. The phrase “qui tam” comes from the Latin phrase “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro seipse” meaning “he who sues for the King as well as for himself.” Today, the False Claims Act is an important weapon in the government’s arsenal against fraud – each year, the government recovers billions of dollars with the help of private individuals who “blow the whistle” on fraud. In addition, many states have enacted their own qui tam laws to prevent fraud involving state-funded programs such as Medicaid. This includes Michigan, which enacted qui tam provisions to the Michigan Medicaid False Claims Act (M.C.L. §400.601 et seq.) in 2006.
Examples of the type of conduct that is considered “fraudulent” under the False Claim Act include:
- A small business falsely certifies that is a “minority-owned” small business in order to receive government contracts, when in fact is it not owned or operated by a minority
- A doctor bills Medicare and/or Medicaid for medical procedures which were in fact never performed on his patients
- A government contractor states that it has complied with certain government-imposed safety mandates when supplying machinery for military use, when in fact it has not
- A pharmaceutical company engages in “off-label” marketing by encouraging physicians to prescribe drugs for usages which have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration
These are just a few examples, and fraud against the government can take many forms. Due to the increasing elderly population in the country, fraud against federal health care programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Tri-Care is becoming more and more common. Other government agencies which are often targeted by fraudsters include the armed forces and Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Foley & Mansfield attorneys have also successfully handled cases across the county involving state and municipal False Claims Acts. For specific questions on your state's Act, please contact one of our attorneys.
If you think you are aware of fraud against the government, please contact us for a complimentary consultation. We will work with you to thoroughly assess your claims and determine if you have a viable False Claims Act lawsuit. We are also aware of the sensitivity of False Claims Acts proceedings – many of our clients are individuals who stood up against their employers to report fraudulent conduct, and we will work with you to help protect any rights you may have as a whistleblower. All information shared with our office will be kept strictly confidential.