False Claims Act
The False Claims Act (FCA) sets forth liability for any person, entity, or local or state government who knowingly submits a false claim to the government to get a false claim paid by the government. The FCA allows private persons to file suit for violations of the FCA on behalf of the government. A suit filed by an individual on behalf of the government is known as a “qui tam” action and the person bringing the action is referred to as a “relator.” The Department of Justice must investigate the allegations in a qui tam complaint and then notify the court if it will intervene or take over the action. If the Department of Justice intervenes in a qui tam action, it has the primary responsibility for prosecuting the action and may settle the claims. The resulting liability under the FCA can be significant – penalties may include treble damages plus a fine between $5,000 and $10,000 for each claim (fine amounts are subject to inflationary adjustments, currently set between $10,781.40 and $21,562.80).
Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC has extensive experience defending state and local educational agencies and post-secondary institutions against qui tam actions under the FCA. The Firm has successfully defended and resolved qui tam actions for its clients. For example, the Firm reached a favorable settlement to resolve allegations that a state educational agency submitted false information to the U.S. Department of Education regarding eligibility to receive federal funds under the Migrant Education Program. In addition to the defense and settlement of FCA claims, we regularly provide training and other technical assistance, including the development of internal controls and policies and procedures, to mitigate risk and avoid government investigation under the FCA.