You burned the midnight oil for years to grow your business. You pay your employees decent wages. You’re proud of what you’ve accomplished and of the fine reputation you and your company have earned.
Then you get served with a summons and complaint that states you’ve violated the Federal or California’s False Claims Act (FCA). If you find yourself in a similar scenario, take action—call the legal professionals at Simas & Associates, Ltd..
What is the False Claims Act?
The Federal False Claims Act is widely regarded as the most effective tool in combating fraud against the federal government. Congress enacted the Federal False Claims Act (FFCA) during the Civil War and the initial results were ineffective. Motivated in large measure by highly publicized accounts of abuses in the defense contracting industry, in 1986, the FFCA was amended and has been transformed into the most effective and successful tool in combating waste, fraud and abuse in federal spending. From 1986 to 2015, the federal government recovered in excess of $48 billion as a result of cases filed under the FFCA. Nearly one-half of all recoveries, and the majority of the largest settlements, have come from health-care related cases.
The California Legislature, similarly, enacted the California False Claims Act (CFCA) in 1987, in order to crack down on fraud and to penalize persons or companies who knowingly overcharge the government. Under the CFCA, almost any person or company can sue any other person or business that knowingly filed a false claim for payment with the government.
Who can file a false claims complaint?
An FCA complaint may be filed by anyone having information showing that the defendant sought payment from the government to which he or she was not entitled. Such a person, called a “whistleblower,” could be a disgruntled former employee, a neighbor, a competitor, or even the ex-spouse of a company official. Your Simas & Associates, Ltd. attorney will determine this during the discovery process of the case.
The complaint says that one of the plaintiffs is the Attorney General. Why is the Attorney General involved?
The FCA requires that lawsuits filed by whistleblowers on behalf of the U.S. government or U.S. state must be served upon the respective attorney general. The attorney general will then decide whether to become involved in the case or not. Lawsuits under the FCA by private individuals are called “qui tam” actions. Unfortunately, the FCA provides that a successful qui tam plaintiff can receive from 15 to 50% of the proceeds of the action or settlement. This encourages some plaintiffs to file baseless false claims actions. Simas & Associates, Ltd. will aggressively defend you and your company against baseless claims.
Do I need an attorney?
No, you don’t have to hire an attorney. But we do highly recommend it. False claims litigation is highly complex and the consequences of a bad outcome are dire. For example, a person or company that violates the CFCA is liable for three times the amount of damages sustained by the government. Moreover, the violators may be liable for civil penalties or as much as $10,000 per each false claim. A successful plaintiff is also entitled to costs plus reasonable expenses and attorney fees. The conduct violating the CFCA may also be prosecuted as a criminal offense. Finally, a violation of the CFCA could jeopardize your company’s ability to contract with governmental entities. This could result in financial or reputational loss.
Why should I hire Simas & Associates, Ltd.?
Simas & Associates, Ltd. is dedicated to providing you with ethical, positive, and cost effective representation. Our attorneys are experienced, aggressive, and dedicated advocates standing ready to safeguard and protect your rights. We know the law and we’ll be there with you every step of the way.