In Government's Shoes: The Continuing Force Behind the False Claims Act & Qui Tam Complaints


To combat fraud by contractors selling faulty war supplies to the Union Army, in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the False Claims Act (the “FCA”). Designed to root out fraud on the federal government, this act uniquely allows certain private parties — “relators” — to bring “qui tam” lawsuits in which they can sue businesses on behalf of the government and potentially reap substantial rewards for their efforts. Now 150 years old, “Lincoln’s Law” has seen multiple changes since its inception. In particular, changes in the mid-1980s and as recently as 2010 have boosted the FCA to extraordinary relevance.

Today, the landscape is particularly ripe for FCA lawsuits, especially in states like Arizona. From a legal perspective, the statutory incentives for FCA claims are at an all-time high. Companies found responsible for FCA violations may be subject to treble damages and significant statutory penalties. And qui tam plaintiffs, a growing type of whistleblower, who pursue such claims may recover as much as 30 percent of those amounts. From a factual perspective, the target field is rich. Arizona companies are doing billions of dollars of business with the federal government in a wide spectrum of industries ranging from financial to health care to construction to aerospace to national defense to education, and beyond. And one need only follow the daily news to see the growing ranks of whistleblowers, who now can access data, publicize claims and achieve levels of notoriety for their efforts unlike any other point in history.

Originally published in Arizona Attorney - March 2014.

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