New York City False Claims Act Lawyers
When a hospital, bank, insurance company, government contractor, or other person or entity files a false claim for compensation with the federal government, they deserve to be held accountable for their actions. The False Claims Act allows citizens to help combat this type of government fraud – and entitles them to financial compensation for their efforts.
Over the past 30 years, the U.S. government has recovered more than $44 billion through claims under the False Claims Act. It recovered $5.7 billion in 2014 alone, approximately $3 billion of which resulted from claims initiated by citizens. As for the whistleblowers who helped the government successfully pursue these claims, they received over $435 million in financial compensation in the year 2014.
About the False Claims Act
President Abraham Lincoln signed the False Claims Act into law in 1863. It was the midst of the Civil War, and unscrupulous contractors were selling rotten food, defective weapons, and sick livestock to the Union Army. President Lincoln and Congress enacted the False Claims Act to allow citizens who were aware of these and other improprieties to file lawsuits on the government’s behalf. In exchange for their services – commonly referred to as “whistleblowing” – they were awarded between 15 and 30 percent of the amount recovered for the government.
Today, the False Claims Act continues to serve the same essential purpose, although the scope of whistleblower claims filed under the Act has increased substantially. Recently, there has been a significant increase in the number of successful claims as well: Of the roughly $44 billion recovered since 1986, more than half has been recovered since 2009.
Requirements for Filing a Whistleblower Claim
While anyone can file a whistleblower claim under the False Claims Act, there are certain conditions and requirements that must be met. Due to the substantial awards available to whistleblowers, the government imposes restrictions to make sure that only meritorious claims make their way into the system. For example, not only is it highly advisable to hire an attorney to represent you in your whistleblower claim, but it is a legal requirement as well.
The basic requirements for filing a whistleblower claim under the False Claims Act include:
- Hiring a False Claims Act attorney
- Presenting specific allegations of fraud or other misconduct
- Having non-public information that supports your allegations
- Being able to demonstrate that the alleged fraud or misconduct has resulted in significant harm to U.S. taxpayers
In order to constitute fraud, a false claim must be submitted either: (i) with knowledge that it is false, (ii) with deliberate ignorance of whether it is true or false, or (iii) with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity. As a result, a key part of any whistleblower claim involves establishing not only what was submitted, but why it was submitted as well.
Common Whistleblower Claims under the False Claims Act
As demonstrated by the recent increase in successful recoveries, whistleblowers have no shortage of opportunities to report cases and seek compensation under the False Claims Act. However, generally speaking, the majority of whistleblower cases fall into a handful of primary categories.
Healthcare, Medicare and Medicaid Fraud
Each year, patients, their families, and the government spend billions of dollars on healthcare that was either unnecessary or not actually provided. These and other forms of healthcare fraud make health insurance more expensive for everyone, and often leave patients suffering as a result of improper or inadequate care. Medicare and Medicaid fraud are also billion-dollar industries – industries that pad unscrupulous healthcare providers’ pockets at the expense of taxpayers and the federal government.
An issue that often surfaces in cases involving healthcare, Medicare, and Medicaid fraud is that of kickbacks. A kickback is a form payment made in connection with an illegal exchange – again at the expense of the government. For example, if a medical device manufacturer pays a doctor or hospital to recommend its products to patients, this may be an illegal kickback that can give rise to liability under the False Claims Act.
Kickbacks are also common in transactions involving medications and prescription drugs. In addition to illegal kickbacks, other forms of pharmaceutical fraud include: charging for drugs that were returned or never sold, selling medications that are not FDA-approved, and illegal price gouging.
In healthcare, construction, and other sectors, government contractors are required to comply with a stringent procurement process. This process is designed to ensure that the government contracts trustworthy companies and spends taxpayers’ money efficiently. Unfortunately, procurement fraud is an all-too-common practice, and one that costs the government billions of dollars.
Do You Have a Whistleblower Claim? Speak with a False Claims Act Attorney Today
Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. is a New York City law firm that helps whistleblowers bring lawsuits under the False Claims Act. If you believe that you may have information about a company that is defrauding the government, we want to hear from you. We offer free consultations, and there is no fee unless you receive compensation from the government. To speak with one of our attorneys, call 1-888-575-6410 or contact us online today.