This is the first segment of an interview with Tony Munter and Gary Farmer. Mr. Farmer is an experienced false claims act attorney who has practiced under the Florida False Claims Act. In the interview below (part one of five), Mr. Farmer compares some of the costs and benefits of the Federal and Florida False Claims Acts. Tony Munter is not licensed to practice in the jurisdiction of Florida.
Gary: There are some pretty significant differences between the Florida Act and the Federal Act. For the most part, with the exception of one piece of language and that is really more about a tortured interpretation of that language and frankly some nefarious intent by our Attorney General when a recent amendment was made to our statute. I’ll get to that in a minute, but with the exception of that one portion of the statute, I think the Florida Act actually gives Relators greater rights and greater ability to control the destiny of a case than the Federal Act. That’s because when you look at Chapter 68 and it’s [section] 081 through 092. I forwarded to you a brief I filed in my battle with the Attorney General, which talks about this statutory provision. The Florida Act incorporates the rules of civil procedure into every case and the Federal Act does not do that. So procedurally it’s a case by case, judge by judge in some aspect.
In addition to providing the Florida rules of civil procedure, the Florida Act specifically says that if the state declines to intervene that the Relator has the right to proceed with the action. If the government reverses its course and decides after initially declining that it does want to intervene then the State doesn’t get to automatically intervene, it has to file a motion requesting leave of court to intervene to be allowed to intervene. The government must show good cause for being allowed to intervene and perhaps most importantly the Act specifically says that if intervention is granted that the State cannot do anything to the detriment of the private Relator.