Filing a False Claims Act Case

The statute allows for a person to file a False Claims Act case and who is a person under the False Claims Act is usually loosely interpreted. Some cases have even been filed in the name of companies, which may be allowed but may complicate things regarding that entity’s status as an “original source,” if there is a challenge based on the public disclosure bar. It is difficult for a corporate entity to be able to demonstrate having the information to satisfy that requirement. The statute indicates a “person,” which will include people who are not citizens of the United States.

There are restrictions with respect to people serving in the military. The personnel serving in the military cannot provide information or be False Claims Act Relators with respect to events that occurred in their military service. If they happen to know of other matters unrelated to their military service, they could file a case. There is a split in authority with respect to whether individuals who happened to be employees of the government can file False Claims Act cases.

The question is whether or not someone is a person in a position to have knowledge of the case that will lead them to be able to file a case. Read below to learn more about filing a False Claims Act case.

Common Reasons Why Someone May Not Have Grounds for a Claim

When a whistleblower comes forward with information that they believe is enough information based on an individual event, that may not be enough information to succeed in a False Claims Act case. Whistleblowers usually have to be on the inside of an organization to the extent that they would know about systematic wrongdoing, and that can be difficult to obtain unless the whistleblower is actually in the organization. The whistleblower often simply is not aware of the type of detail leading to plea a case under the law properly. Of course, every case is different and consulting with counsel is required to determine if the whistleblower has enough evidence to go forward and have a chance at succeeding.

What Constitutes Knowingly Submitting or Causing the Submission of False or Fraudulent Claims?

The whole question of “knowing” or what lawyers in this field call “scienter” (the legal term for knowledge) is tricky in a False Claims Act case. In theory, specific intent is not required under the False Claims Act. The statute says ‘knowing submission of a false claim’ is. Therefore, a defendant has to know that what they were doing is false and that the claim they are submitting is false.

Knowing takes in a broader range of activity than in conduct rather than actually knowing, that in any provable way, someone was submitting a false claim. This creates a great deal of legal room for defendants to claim that they did not know that what they were doing amounted to a false claim. This tends to be an area of False Claims Act litigation of great contention. Attorneys prefer cases in which it is possible to make that claim with some level of confidence.

Benefits of an Attorney

Whether or not a Qui Tam suit can be submitted without an attorney depends upon the jurisdiction. There are jurisdictions where a Qui Tam is not allowed on a pro se basis. It depends at what point the judge decides to make an issue, but the legal theory behind that is that because the relator is not suing on behalf of themselves (but rather is suing on behalf of the government) and that the government is the real party of interest, the courts disfavor private parties coming with suits without representation of attorneys. This is an area of law where attorneys do provide value to the whistleblower.

False Claims Act cases tend to be big and involve many facts and regulatory rules. Going through and figuring out how to make a coherent filing out of all that is difficult and requires a whistleblower to search their memory in ways that they may not expect and learning which factors are more relevant to their case than others. It is a very involved process and for all these reasons, it is best to have counsel.

Call today to learn more about how a lawyer could help you when it comes to filing a False Claims Act case.