Washington DC False Claims Act

The District of Columbia False Claims Act D.C. Code §§2-381.01 et seq. was initially enacted in 2011, and it is one of the rare state False Claims Acts that not only includes most important provisions of the Federal Law, but actually exceeds the federal law in some respects and that of many other states.

About the DC FCA

Whistleblower rewards, and the procedure the Washington DC False Claims Act follows, generally adhere to the Federal Law. The DC Law creates liability for any kind of false claim involving funds from the District of Columbia, it is not limited to health care cases, but of course covers healthcare-related claims as well.

The District, as those who live there know, is a little different than most states. There aren’t really “political subdivisions” or cities within the District per se. The District is both the City and the State, so liability for any District of Columbia funds really would cover any action involving any money provided by DC. Thus, there is no need to include a special provision that would cover towns within the District. A knowledgeable lawyer in DC could help to explain these nuances to anyone involved in a claim.

Who Is Allowed to Bring a False Claims Act Case in DC?

Local laws are typically pretty broad as to who can bring a Washington DC False Claims Act case. The issue, really, is who knows about the fraudulent activity. A person has to have really solid information about fraudulent activity in order to bring a strong case.

The only people who are specifically not allowed to bring cases are members of the military reporting on their own military service. However, if a member of the military knew about a state False Claims Act issue, they would be allowed to bring a state False Claims Act case.

In some jurisdictions, there is some difficulty with respect to federal government employees being able to bring Federal False Claims Act cases. However, there are other jurisdictions that allow federal government employees to bring False Claims Act cases under certain circumstances. This issue requires a discussion with a skilled DC attorney to make sure the procedures are followed, but it is possible to do. In general, the rules are pretty broad as to who can bring a case.

Defendant Liability

While this law includes liability for Defendants along similar theories as the Federal law, it also includes two areas of liability not found in the federal law. These areas of liability are when the Defendant:

  • Is a beneficiary of an inadvertent submission of a false or fraudulent claim to the District, subsequently discovers the falsity of the claim, and fails to disclose the false or fraudulent claim to the District; or
  • Is the beneficiary of an inadvertent payment or overpayment by the District of monies not due and knowingly fails to repay the inadvertent payment or overpayment to the District.

See D.C. Code §§2-381.02(a)

Such liability makes it much harder for a defendant to somehow pretend that they mistakenly submitted a false claim or did not act “knowingly” to submit a false claim, which can be a major issue to prove in a False Claims Act case. It will be interesting, of course, to see if the “inadvertent” False Claims Act liability provisions of this law come into play in any cases filed under the Washington DC False Claims Act.

Call an Attorney to Discuss Washington the False Claims Act in the District of Columbia

As under the federal law, a defendant convicted under the Washington DC False Claims Act may have to pay three times the damages to the District. Defendants are also liable for civil fines of between $5,500 and $11,000 for each violation of the law.

Most importantly, individuals who file a case that results in a recovery for the District can receive rewards. The rewards mirror the federal provisions of between 15 and 25 percent of any recovery when the DC Attorney General intervenes in the matter.  Additionally, if the individual pursues the case without such support from the government, he or she may earn between 25 and 30 percent of the amount recovered.

Of course, it is mostly positive to know that there is a right of action for those of us who live in the District to sue and recover funds on behalf of the District. So often, living in Washington, DC is a privilege, but one that sometimes comes with fewer rights than living in a state, relatively speaking.