News Rules in Qui Tam Legislation
The False Claims Act is a venerable statute of the U.S. Government, dating back to the Civil War. Originally targeted at preventing the rampant fraud plaguing the union army, over the years it has come to be used more broadly, allowing individual citizens to help root out corruption and fraud targeting the State. Over time, the rules, theories, and applications of the law have changed, and the most recent session of the supreme court was a particularly active one, clarifying a number of points that were bones of contention between businesses, which feel that “excessive” qui tam judgements are impeding their ability to carry out commerce, and individuals who feel that rampant fraud is overburdening the government’s ability to properly provide for its citizens.
Two particular issues that were ruled upon were what are known as “materiality” and “implied certification.” Unfortunately for relators, the legal name for someone who files a qui tam suit, both of these issues were decided in favor of companies, although neither poses an existential threat to the FCA. Materiality is the idea that some fraud is too inconsequential to be worth filing a suit over. An oft-cited example would be if a doctor seeing Medicare patients were to violate a law requiring him to have American-made staplers. While no such law exists, opponents of qui tam lawsuits say that some claims are brought over similarly immaterial issues. Our California False Claims Act attorneys have seen any number of cases where defendants will try to minimize the importance of their violations.
Implied certification, which is closely tied with materiality, refers to the theory that the act of billing the government for a good or service tacitly “certifies” that the products meet the required government standards. For example, when we go to the dealer and buy a car, we expect that even if the salesperson doesn’t explicitly say the car is road-worthy, by selling it to us they are making the claim that it is.
The process of drafting and filing a whistleblower claim has always been complex, and it’s important for prospective qui tam whistleblowers to contact an experienced attorney who can help them present their information appropriately, pursue the case, and work with the government on receiving the whistleblower reward. Our Alameda qui tam attorneys have worked on many False Claims Act cases, and can help support whistleblowers in their claims, and in preventing retaliation and harassment.
If you have information about fraud perpetrated by a nursing home, pharmaceutical company, or healthcare provider against the government, contact the Evans Law Firm at (415) 441-8669, or by email at