New Developments in False Claims Act Cases
As the end of a Supreme Court session rolls around, attorneys tend to take a moment to recoup, gather the decisions, and take a look at what new features have been added to the landscape of the law. This has been a tumultuous session, with the death of a Justice and the existence of a conspicuous hole on the bench. There were a number of important decisions which shaped the future of class-actions, as well as a major abortion ruling.
Among the tumult, there were also important decisions made about whistleblower laws, and particularly the False Claims Act, one of the oldest on the book. The false Claims Act is designed to prevent companies from defrauding the Federal government by allowing ordinary citizens with information about wrongdoing to file a lawsuit on behalf of the government, and to collect a portion of the money as a reward. The False Claims Act has been essential to combating waste and corruption. In recent years, the Act has mostly been used against healthcare companies that sold defective or compromised drugs or medical equipment, or nursing home and hospitals that provided poor or non-existent services to Medicare recipients.
Our Santa Clara whistleblower attorneys have been closely watching Universal Health Services, Inc. V. United States Et Al. Ex Rel. Escobar Et Al, a qui tam lawsuit decided this session, in which the court unanimously decided in favor of the whistleblower. The case hinged on the concept of implied certification,‘ essentially saying that if the company submits a bill for payment to the government, it is implicitly certifying that its goods and services meet the legal standard required. This is largely the same logic the average consumer uses when buying something: we take it for granted that if we buy a car, it will have an engine, unless otherwise stated.
The Escobar decision clarifies the law, and prevents companies that commit government fraud from weakening the False Claims Act, which they have long held to be overly burdensome to their industries. It is not uncommon for companies that bill Medicare to have qui tam suits filed against them, and the sheer number of cases in which sick and elderly patients suffer from low-quality care indicates the scope of the problem.
Whistleblowers bringing qui tam suits have been instrumental in preventing rampant fraud since the Act was first put in place during the Civil War, and by preventing the erosion of the FCA’s power, the Supreme Court has empowered whistleblowers to continue to prevent government fraud.
If you have information on nursing homes, caregivers, or pharmaceutical companies that you believe may be defrauding the government, please contact the Evans Law Firm at (415) 441-8669, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Santa Clara whistleblower attorneys have experience with initiating and managing qui tam suits, IRS and SEC whistleblower cases, and have helped relators to recover substantial awards in these cases.