Ice Miller attorneys have defended business clients in numerous False Claims Act investigations and lawsuits. Our experience includes significant claims involving the pharmaceutical, defense, health care and student financial aid industries. We have represented clients in civil lawsuits, civil and criminal investigations, jury trials, and at the appellate level.
No government contractor, health care provider, educational institution, hospital or any recipient of government payments is ever prepared for its first encounter with the False Claims Act. The federal government, and now most states, impose severe penalties against persons submitting false or fraudulent payment claims. Defendants risk civil damages of three times the amount of the claim, as well as penalties exceeding $10,000 for each false claim.
These laws also contain so-called qui tam, or whistleblower provisions, that extend the government’s reach even further. Almost any citizen, including employees, former employees and business competitors, may file a False Claims Act complaint on behalf of the governmental entity, and force the government to conduct an investigation. If the whistleblower’s claim prevails, he or she may receive 15 to 25 percent of the total award, plus reasonable attorney fees.
Once a qui tam complaint is filed, it is kept secret for months or years, while the government investigates. If the government decides to intervene or “take over” the case, it brings the resources of the federal or state government to bear against the defendant. Thus, decisions made by defendants at the earliest stages of the qui tam case can have enormous financial consequences. Experienced counsel is an especially valuable asset in this process.