The False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733), was first enacted in 1863 by a Congress concerned that suppliers of goods to the Union Army during the Civil War were defrauding the Army. Over the life of the statute it has been interpreted on hundreds of occasions by Federal courts (which have sometimes issued conflicting interpretations of the statute).
As set out under the statute, any person who knowingly submits a false claim to the government may be liable treble damages and significant penalties. Since first enacted, the False Claims Act has been amended several times. In 1986, there were significant changes to the statute, including increasing damages from double damages to treble damages and raising the amount of penalties that may be assessed for each false claims. Among its provisions were measures intended to encourage the disclosure of fraud by private persons through the filing of a “qui tam” or "whistleblower" suit.
It is important to remember that a person does not violate the statute merely by submitting a false claim to the government. Errors, mistakes and accidents are not a violation of the law. To violate the statute a person must have submitted, or caused the submission of, the false claim (or made a false statement or record) with knowledge of the falsity. Under 31 U.S.C. § 3729(b)(1), "knowledge" of false information is defined as:
- Actual knowledge
- Deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information; or
- Reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the information
Today, the False Claims Act is the Federal government's primary civil enforcement tool. Several Liles Parker attorneys worked as Federal prosecutors and have extensive experience working on these matters and cases. In fact, one of our partners drafted the Department of Justice's 1998 "Guidance on the Use of the False Claims Act in Civil Health Care Matters," that was issued by the Deputy Attorney General.
As former Federal prosecutors and white collar defense attorneys, we will aggressively work to protect your financial interests. Have you received a Civil Investigative Demand (CID)? Are you facing a False Claims Act investigation? Give us a call for a complimentary consultation. We can be reached at: 1 (800) 475-1906.