There are a number of elements that increase the likelihood of a False Claims Act case having a positive outcome. Ultimately, an DC experienced attorney will be an invaluable asset when it comes to explaining what makes a strong False Claims Act case. In addition, such an attorney will be well equipped to help you construct the case and advise you as to the best course of action each step of the way.
Elements of a Strong Case
Technically, a false claim is not the same thing as common law fraud. Yet, when first determining whether the case is going to work, this distinction may not be all that instructive. The cases that will survive the process, the very best cases, usually involve a matter that creates a visceral reaction that the government is being defrauded. The cases have to be strong enough that it is clear the government was injured and wronged. Some measure of outrage is appropriate to the good false claims case and makes clear what the case is about.
The law was enacted, because of outrage over the harm caused to the government and taxpayers. Initially, the False Claims Act was enacted in an era of outrage that the Union Army was suffering fraud and soldiers were at risk during the Civil War. Furthermore, this harm is caused not by accident, not by mere poor performance, but by someone attempting to make money rather than provide the government with the full measure of what the government was intending to buy. A technical violation of a regulation here is not enough. The best cases provide a reason why somebody feels deeply that what is happening is deeply wrong. It may be that the amount of money is unconscionable, it may be that safety or health is at risk, but usually, there is an additional reason why a good case becomes an important case for the government to be persuaded to pursue it.
In healthcare, the facts often lead to the conclusion that wrongful practices, in addition to ripping off the government, cause patient harm. Patient harm is not necessarily the issue of a strong False Claims Act case, but, of course, the government is concerned about fraud that causes patient harm. It is fair to say that Defense Department material can put troops at risk if the contracting involved has that effect. This is also an issue the government cares about.
Examples of Strong Claims
Important False Claims Act cases going forward may include some mortgage fraud cases, though they are unlikely to be predominant. There may, however, be a good deal of work to be done to the Securities and Exchange Commission Whistleblower Program with respect to fraudulent investments.
Healthcare fraud, for the foreseeable future, is likely to be the area that results in most cases and the most collections, both federally and at the state level. There are many issues unaddressed with respect to rural healthcare, hospice providers, and nursing home businesses. With an aging population increasingly needing such services, it stands to reason that nursing homes may become more prevalent in False Claims Act cases.
Relatively Few Cases Are Filed
While there is no end of temptation in the amount of money that fraudsters can make at the expense of the government, it is worth remembering that most businesses do conduct their work for the government honestly. Indeed, strong False Claims Act cases are important for businesses as well as the government and consumers. It is a terrible thing for businesses that do the right thing to be at a competitive disadvantage with businesses that commit fraud.
In spite of the efforts of some to the best lawyers in the country to file only strong cases, it is often heard from the defense bar that plaintiffs are filing many frivolous cases. That theory just does not seem borne out by the numbers either.
The fact that 702 False Claims Act cases were filed in 2016 in a country as large as the United States offers counter-evidence to this claim. That simply is not very many cases when you consider the size of the federal budget and the many different kinds of government payments, which occur. The government is involved in purchasing almost every kind of good or service that can be imagined. The country has more than 300 million people.
Call an Attorney for Assistance with Creating a Strong False Claims Act Case
702 cases of fraud filed representing the vast majority of major fraud cases in this country just is not a very large number. There is room for more efforts and more cases to file to fight fraud committed against the United States. Hopefully, the years in the future will bring greater success in this area. In the meantime, make sure to consult with an attorney to further understand what makes a strong False Claims Act case and whether yours may fall in that category.