At East Tennessee Employment Law, we represent individuals in an array of whistleblower actions under the False Claims Act (“FCA”) The FCA was enacted in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln and was meant to combat fraud that was occurring rampantly during the Civil War. Otherwise known as qui tam (meaning “on behalf of the King”), such laws have history dating back to the Middle Ages in England. In 1318, King Edward II offered one third of the penalty to the relator when the relator successfully sued government officials who moonlighted as wine merchants.

An FCA violation occurs whenever a person or entity deceives the Government in order to improperly obtain money from the Government, or in order to improperly be relieved from paying money to the Government. The law defines a false claim exceptionally broadly and encompasses several types of activity. The FCA forbids “submitting or causing to submit” a false claim.  The FCA makes it illegal for a company or individual to present a false claim for reimbursement to the Government where there is “deliberate ignorance” or “reckless disregard” of the claim’s falsity (i.e., ignorance is no excuse).

Under the FCA, private citizens (called “Relators”) can help the Government fight fraud. The FCA allows ordinary citizens who have knowledge of fraudulent conduct to bring suit on behalf of the Government against those who have defrauded the Government by filing false claims. If money is recovered for the action, then the Relator bringing the case is entitled to a percentage of the total amount recovered. This amount can range anywhere from 15% to 30% of the amount recovered.

One common type of claim brought under the FCA is healthcare fraud,  accounting for approximately 40% of recoveries by 2008.  As of 2019, over 72% of all federal FCA actions were initiated by whistleblowers.  The government recovered $62.1 billion under the False Claims Act between 1987 and 2019 and of this amount, over $44.7 billion or 72% was from qui tam cases brought by relators. Qui tam whistleblowers received a total of $309 million in whistleblower rewards in 2020

If you are aware of false claims being submitted to the Government, please contact East Tennessee Employment Law to speak with one of our attorneys about your potential claim.