False Claims Procedure

There are several unique aspects to False Claims procedure. A False Claims Act case must be filed under the seal of the court. The seal provision of the law grants the government 60 days to investigate the allegations filed, and that period can be extended for good cause shown. In practice, the seal period is almost always extended to allow the government to investigate.

If you are interested in filing a claim under the False Claims Act, a distinguished False Claims Act lawyer can help. Discussing a False Claims procedure with an attorney who can be by your side throughout the whole process can give you peace of mind.

Seal Provisions

The False Claims Act’s seal provision, means that the individuals and even the lawyers, cannot discuss the case publicly and cannot comment on whether or not a case has been filed until the government makes a decision as to whether or not it is going to intervene in the case and until the court takes the action of unsealing the case to the public.

Government Intervention

If the government decides to intervene in the false claims case, they bear the burden of carrying the litigation forward, and they have to conduct discovery and the trial. If it is not intervened, the individual plaintiff-relator still has the right to go forward on their own, but in doing so, the individual bears much more burden in litigating a major case than if the case is not specifically supported by the government.

When the government makes a decision to decline and the individual plaintiff-relator wants to go forward with the case, it would be unsealed and the complaint would have to be served on the defendant and prosecuted like any other lawsuit. The government retains the right to take over the case at any time. Any time the government decides to intervene in the case, it is clear from all the available statistics that the chances of that case’s success increases.

Statute of Limitations

The False Claims Act has three different statutes of limitations attached to it. The first two apply to the underlying fraud claim. The general provision is a statute of limitations of six years. . There is also a “right of repose” which could extend that six years if it applies but not shorten it. That statute of limitations starts when the government had reason to know about the fraud and runs for, three years, but in no event to exceed a total of ten years from when the fraud occurred.

However, the law also has a three years statute of limitations with respect to claims for retaliation. This happens when an individual is subject to retaliation for reporting fraud and wants to sue under the false claims act, section 3730(h). Whistleblowers would, therefore, have a three-year statute of limitations for that kind of claim only.

Developments

One recent development in a False Claims procedure under the Department of Justice is that while a filing under the federal False Claims Act is a civil manner, the Department of Justice generally reviews all False Claims Act filings for criminal liability. Individuals filing under the False Claims Act cannot maintain a criminal action, only the government has such authority, but of course, the government can use the information this way.

False Claims Law

Despite the fact that a relatively modest number of False Claims Act cases are filed every year, in recent years, the law has a huge impact. The number of cases filed over the last few years has been just a few more than 700 per year. Yet, the False Claims Act is the most powerful tool to fight fraud committed against the government available. It also is the most powerful incentive to correct the behavior of contractors and businesses and individuals who would commit fraud. Since the 1986 amendments brought the False Claims Act back to life, up to $50 billion have been collected as a result of False Claims Act cases.