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Dec 15, 2021 by |

California and San Francisco Whistleblower/Qui Tam Attorney: Pending False Claims Act Amendments

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

Senate Judiciary Committee To Vote On Amendments

Amendments Would Strengthen The False Claims Act 

Private Citizens Recover Billions For Government

The federal False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq., rewards individuals who help the government recover money lost to businesses and individuals as a result of fraudulent claims to the government for payment or reimbursements.  In fact, individuals are much more effective in recovering government money lost to fraud than the government itself does: over 80% of recoveries every year come from the efforts of individuals who bring cases (called qui tams under the FCA.  31 U.S.C. § 3730(b).  Recently proposed amendments to the FCA would strengthen the Act and allow for more effective policing of government contract fraud by individuals.  Evans Law Firm, Inc. favors any amendments that strengthen this important tool to combat fraud.  We represent whistleblowers who bring FCA cases and believe the proposed amendments are important advances against government fraud.  If you have original information of fraud against the federal or State government, call us today at (415)441-8669.  Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS.

Proposed Amendments

Materiality.  The proposed FCA amendments would change the concept of “materiality” of fraud actionable under the law. The question of whether a fraud is “material” is complicated, but boils down to the extent of the government’s knowledge of alleged fraud that was committed as well as the government’s decision to continue to pay the alleged fraudsters. Due to lower court interpretations of the U.S. Supreme Court case United Health Services v. United States ex rel. Escobar, 579 U.S. 176 (2016) defendants in False Claims cases have successfully moved to have their cases thrown out just by showing that the government in some way had knowledge of the fraud yet continued to pay the contract. This wide interpretation has been abused over recent years, allowing parties that were subject to extremely strong fraud cases having their cases dropped.   This abuse of the holding in Escobar has discouraged individual whistleblowers from pursuing cases.  The proposed amendment would close this loophole so that the burden of proof on the issue would shift to defendant on the issue.

Post-Termination Retaliation. The amendments also clarify another important element of the False Claims Act relating to retaliation and post-employment treatment of whistleblowers. Up to this point, the interpretation of the anti-retaliatory provisions of the False Claims Act did not include whistleblowers who no longer worked at the organization. This makes it easy for employers to simply fire their employees if they want to blacklist them from future, gainful employment. The amendment would ban retaliation against current or former employees, thus protecting whistleblowers from undue discrimination in their fields following termination by the wrongdoing employer.

Contact Us

If you have information regarding a whistleblower/qui tam case in San Francisco, Alameda or Marin Counties or elsewhere in California, contact Ingrid M. Evans at Evans Law Firm at (415) 441-8669, or toll-free at 1-888-50EVANS or by email at <a href=”mailto:info@evanslaw.com”>info@evanslaw.com</a>. In addition to cases brought under the False Claims Act, Ingrid represents whistleblowers in Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) cases for securities fraud (related to stocks, bonds, private placements and variable annuities for example), banking fraud under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (“FIRREA”), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) cases for tax fraud, particularly offshore tax avoidance schemes.

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