Why False Claims Actions May be Barred
The False Claims Act (FCA) was enacted during the 1860s to help provide an incentive for disclosing fraud involving government contracts with the US Department of Defense. The FCA has been expanded and amended several times. Now whistleblowers who disclose government fraud involving the defense department, Medicare, Medicaid, and other agencies are entitled to a sizable percentage of any recovery.
The False Claims Act statute bars certain types of actions. These bars sometimes depend on what is being disclosed, the nature of the disclosure, the person bringing the claim, and other criteria. Some of these bars are fairly clear. Others are changing as new court opinions are written. An experienced False Claims Act lawyer understands which actions the government can accept and which actions will not entitle the relator to a percentage of any recovery.
Actions that are barred
As set forth in the False Claims Act statute:
- Former or current members of the US armed forces can’t bring private actions against another member of the armed forces – if the action is due to the claimant’s personal service in the armed forces
- Private claims against the following people are barred if the claim is based on evidence or information that the Government knew about when the action was initiated – a member of Congress, a senior executive branch official, or a member of the judiciary. A “senior executive branch official” means any officer or employee listed in paragraphs (1) through (8) of section 101(f) of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App.).”
- Private actions based on existing civil or administrative lawsuits where the Government is already a party to the lawsuit
- If “substantially the same allegations or transactions as alleged in the action or claim were publicly disclosed” – unless the Government objects
- In a federal “in a Federal criminal, civil, or administrative hearing in which the Government or its agent is a party.”
- In a “congressional, Government Accountability Office, or other Federal reports, hearing, audit, or investigation”
- From the news media
“unless the action is brought by the Attorney General or the person bringing the action is an original source of the information.”
The interpretation of what is an “original source” is evolving. The statutory definition is an individual who either:
(i) “prior to public disclosure under subsection (e)(4)(a), has voluntarily disclosed to the Government the information on which allegations or transactions in a claim are based, or
(2) who has knowledge that is independent of and materially adds to the publicly disclosed allegations or transactions, and who has voluntarily provided the information to the Government before filing an action under this section.”
Talk to an experienced whistleblower lawyer about whether a False Claims Act claim can be filed based on your disclosure
Many disclosures will justify a False Claims Act claim if there is evidence of fraud against the government. Experienced California False Claims Act lawyers explain what evidence is needed to bring a disclosure, when disclosures might be barred, and when more evidence may be required. At Stephen Danz & Associates, we have been fighting for whistleblowers and helping them get a percentage of recovery for several decades. For help now, call (877)789-9707 today.