Minnesota, USA — Unpacking Lincoln’s Law: The Importance of the False Claims Act

Magnifying glass by John Lester

From the Minnesots Lawyer piece:

As the largest consumer in the United States, indeed, the world, the United States Government is susceptible to fraud from a vast array of sources. The False Claims Act has become the primary tool to stop those who reap financial benefits based on false statements and misrepresentations to the Government. During the Civil War, the Government was being sold worthless goods to supply its troops. Today, fraud against the Government can come from billing for health care services never provided, illegal kickbacks, defense contract bid rigging, and, yes, selling worthless goods to the Government, among other fraudulent schemes.

The quintessential case under the False Claims Act involves a false statement, made to a government agency, that causes the Government to pay money that it otherwise would not have paid had it known the truth. A simple example is a nursing service providing care for Medicaid/Medicare patients that submits a bill stating its employee worked a ten-hour day, when in fact only six hours were worked.

The False Claims Act is important because it allows ordinary citizens to report fraud against the Government, while providing them financial incentives and protections from retaliation. These whistleblowers are key partners for the Government in identifying fraud that may otherwise go undetected. Under the False Claims Act, whistleblowers, known as “relators,” bring suit on behalf of the Government by filing a case under seal. Relators can be most anyone with unique knowledge of the fraud taking place, including not only employees, but also independent contractors, patients, clients, or competitors. Relators cannot proceed pro se and are wise to retain counsel experienced in the unique procedures of the False Claims Act…

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