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FALSE CLAIMS ACT/QUI TAM LAWSUITS

 

False Claims Act cases (sometimes referred to as “qui tam” or “whistleblower” cases) allow for the recovery of funds that have been stolen from taxpayers through fraud by unscrupulous companies that submit false claims for payment to the government or have retained government money to which they are not entitled. The government may discover the fraud and pursue the case directly. To increase the fraud detection rate, the government allows a private citizen, often referred to as a “relator/whistleblower” to pursue the case on behalf of the government and, if successful, receive a portion of the recovery ranging from 15 to 30 percent of the total monies recovered. In addition to the amount of money the government was defrauded, the False Claims Act also provides for the recovery of three times the amount of the damages (treble damages) plus a penalty for each false claim submitted ranging form $5,500 to $11,000. The whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act afford individuals employment protections as a further incentive for serving the public good.

If you have information regarding a business or government contractor submitting false claims for payment of government funds, you may have a valid qui tam claim. The fraud can occur whenever government monies are directly or indirectly used to purchase goods or services not actually provided. While many of the largest past awards were the result of fraud in the defense industry, many of the recent qui tam cases have been filed as a result of fraud involving governmental health care insurance programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Tri-Care (formerly CHAMPUS). As we are all now aware, recently the government has or will make available between $2 to $3 trillions dollars through TARP programs. If only 10% of those who presumably “qualified” for payments submitted fraudulent statements – that would potentially be more than $200 billion dollars in false claims.

Choosing a law firm to represent you in a False Claims Act or qui tam lawsuit should be made carefully. You should have confidence in your lawyer’s legal abilities and have a deep-seated level of trust and comfort with your attorney before you enter into an attorney-client relationship which in most lawsuits will last for many years. Wang, Leonard & Condon supports the brave individuals who expose fraud and takes a proactive approach to all cases we accept from the initial meeting until the case is entirely resolved and our clients have been sufficiently compensated. Our attorneys have experience in fraud cases and have current cases under seal. We are members of TAFNET (Taxpayers Against Fraud) – the Washington, D.C. public interest organization dedicated to combating fraud by pursuing qui tam litigation against the contractors and companies that have defrauded the government. Our experience, coupled with our firm’s resources and exceptional staff, present our clients with the greatest opportunity to prevail in complex False Claims Act cases.

Greg Condon served for more than six years as a trial attorney for the Office of the Illinois Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice. He is committed to devoting his experience and relationships acquired during his public service to achieve the maximum recovery for his whistleblower clients. Greg understands what is important to build a solid, persuasive and enticing case for the government. This experience and understanding is critical for the success of a False Claims Act case during the government’s initial investigation phase and is essential at trial. Since the False Claims Act was amended in 1986 the government has recovered billions of dollars as a result of aui tam lawsuits, with relators enjoying more than $2 billion in rewards. In addition to the False Claims Act, the State of Illinois provides similar protections and rewards under the Whistle Blower Reward and Protection Act and a similar statute relating to fraud against private insurance companies, the Illinois Insurance False Claims Prevention Act. Many other states provide similar protections and rewards to those who have found the courage to stop fraud against the government.

Examples of the types of fraud covered by the False Claims Act and analogous state statutes include:

•  Defense Contracting Fraud

     - Falsified testing results
     - Falsified billing
     - Providing defective parts or components to the military

• Medicare and Medicaid Fraud

     - "Phantom billing” for tests not performed
     - Performing unnecessary procedures
     - Billing for new equipment but providing patients used or old equipment
     - "Upcoding” - charging more than necessary for procedures performed
     - "Reflex testing” - performing unnecessary tests
     - "Code jamming” – laboratories inserting false codes
     - "Phantom employees” – charging for non-existent employees or billing for hours          worked by individuals that are created solely for billing purposes
     - Substandard care, especially from nursing homes and home health care providers          seeking Medicare/medical reimbursement
     - "Double billing” – charging more than once for the same medical procedure or for          the same medical provider

•  Pharmaceutical Fraud

     - Illegal kickbacks
     - "Off-label marketing” - encouraging physicians to prescribe drugs for usages which          have not been approved by the FDA

•  Disaster Relief Fraud

     - Overbilling for services
     - Charging the government for goods and/or services never provided
     - Providing inferior equipment or providing old equipment and billing for new          equipment

•  TARP Fraud

     - Misrepresenting value of assets
     - False certificates of assets and liabilities

•  Falsifying information to obtain Federal Grants

     - Providing false statements in grant applications
     - Submitting false research results to obtain or maintain federal funding

While most relators are current or former employees, anyone with knowledge of government payments of false or fraudulent claims has a potential False Claims Act lawsuit. The relator who is the first to file the quit tam lawsuit is the only one who is rewarded for reporting the fraud. If you believe you have knowledge of a present or past fraud against the government, please call Greg Condon at (312) 182-1668 o (708) 601-0063 to set up a free consultation. Greg will assist you in assessing your potential claim. All information shared is strictly confidential.