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15 Apr The California False Claims Act

The State of California has its own variation of the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act is a Federal statute and has to do with fraud on the Federal level. When it comes to fraud on the state level in California, or the municipalities of California, and it doesn’t involve any Federal funds, that would fall under the California False Claims Act. The California False Claims Act and the cases that interpret it largely mirror the Federal False Claims Act. So, there is a lot of overlap between the two, and the authority for Federal False Claims Act cases are often considered in the California False Claims Act arena.  ...

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12 Apr Common Types of False Claims Act Cases

False Claims Act cases often come up in the Medicare arena. In such cases, a healthcare provider may bill the government for medical services that are covered by Medicare, and the bill is false or fraudulent for one reason or another. Either they over bill, or they provide unnecessary services or, in the most extreme cases, don’t provide any treatment at all, and they just submit a bill. There are a lot of rules on how a healthcare provider can bill for Medicare, so there are a lot of potential pitfalls, and they have to be very careful. Another type of False Claims Act case that often comes up is against pharmaceutical companies, for instance, if they violate FDA regulations in how they advertise or push their particular drug. Another common type has to do with government contractors. For instance, a defense contractor contracts with the government to update their weapons system or some other kind of military machinery, and they violate some term of the government contract such that had the government known of the violation, or that the person or business was going to violate the contract in the way they did, they would not have awarded that contract or made the payments to that business or person. There are other types, but those are some of the main areas in which the False Claims Act comes up.  ...

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08 Apr The Role of the “Relator” in a False Claims Act Case

When a person files a False Claims Act case, it is filed under seal, and the person who brings it is known as a “relator.” By being filed under seal, the perpetrator of the false claim is not initially aware that the case is brought. While the case is under seal, the relator notifies the U.S. Attorney or Attorney General of the fraud, and the Department of Justice or the Attorney General will investigate the allegations in the complaint. The government has sixty days to complete its investigation, but more often than not, they don’t complete their investigation in under sixty days. The government will typically ask the court for more time, which is almost always granted, with a lot of deference given to the government. At some point after the government conducts its investigation, it will decide whether or not to intervene. If it does intervene, the government essentially takes over the case and prosecutes it. When the government prevails, they obtain an award through either a settlement or a trial judgment. From the award, the relator (the person who brought the false claim to the government’s attention), can receive between fifteen and twenty-five percent of the amount recovered by the government, which can often be a substantial amount of money. There have been some very large awards for False Claims Act, upwards of five hundred million. So, it could be quite a large award to the relator. Now, if the Government decides not to intervene, and the relator pursues the action on their own, then they are entitled between twenty-five to thirty percent of whatever they recover. The judge in the action has the discretion to reduce the amount that the relator receives, but there is a limit to how much a judge may reduce the relator’s share.  ...

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01 Apr What’s a “Qui Tam” action?

A “qui tam” action is short for a long Latin sentence that means “He who sues in this matter for the King as well as for himself.” A “qui tam” action refers generally to any kind of reporting of fraud. In my practice, a qui tam more specifically refers to the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act was enacted by Congress in the 1800’s to prevent or to penalize business or individuals who supplied goods to the Union Army during the Civil War and it was meant to prevent those suppliers from defrauding the Army. Since that time, the False Claims Act has expanded significantly to encompass a wide variety of fraud on the government. Specifically, The False Claims Act makes a person liable for knowingly submitting a false or fraudulent claim to the government, or that causes another to submit a false or fraudulent claim to the government, or knowingly makes a false record or statement to get a false claim paid for by the government (and these are all knowingly doing so). There are other aspects of the False Claims Act, for instance, what is called a “Reverse False Claims Action,” where the person avoids paying money to the government, for instance in an overpayment, where the Government pays too much, and the person or entity has to pay it back. Those False Claims Act cases are rarer, with the more common type being knowingly submitting a false or fraudulent claim to get paid by the government. Under the False Claims Act, a person who is found liable must pay a civil penalty of around $5,000-$10,000 for each violation. And, there is a treble damages aspect to it, so the fines can be tripled depending on how egregious the fraud is. One of the key factors for a False Claims Act case is that the person or business knowingly submits a false or fraudulent information. “Knowing” is defined to be actual knowledge, deliberate ignorance of the truth, or falsity of the information, or reckless disregard of the truth or the information. Unlike a fraud claim, where you have to prove intent to defraud, there is no such requirement under The False Claims Act. All that is required is that it is done knowingly. ...

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24 Mar North Carolina Law Effectively Legalizes Discrimination Against LGBTQ Community

On March 23, 2016, North Carolina's governor signed into law a bill that effectively legalizes discrimination against the LGBTQ community. It is a broad and far reaching bill that is rightly being met with outrage. The Huffington Post has an article about this law that I think is worth sharing with readers of this blog. There is currently a bill being considered in California that would prohibit California state agencies from requiring its employees "to travel to any state with a law in effect that sanctions or requires discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression." If passed, this bill could send a strong message to North Carolina and other states that have, or are considering, such laws. It will be interesting to see how this pans out, and I will provide any noteworthy updates on this blog. If you have experienced discrimination at your workplace because of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, contact the Khadder Law Firm today to speak with a labor and employment attorney about your rights....

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