False Claims Act Whistleblowers In The Year 2011: Perils, Pitfalls, And Profits

Thompson Coburn LLP

The Department of Justice secured $3 billion in civil settlements and judgments under the False Claims Act in the last fiscal year alone. This lifted the Department of Justice’s total recoveries under this law to over $27 billion in nearly 25 years. With such staggering amounts at stake, there is no question why even mentioning the phrase “false claim” to a government contractor draws a cold and nervous chill.

Yet, the stakes have never been higher because the risk of being challenged by a “whistleblower” under the False Claims Act has grown considerably over the past year. Seemingly every recent federal reform law has inconspicuously expanded some provision of the False Claims Act. Many government contractors would have simply not expected the Health Care and Financial Reform bills of 2010 to impact their own liability, but each has taken another step toward expanding whistleblower incentives that reach all government contractors. In order to identify risks early, it is imperative that frontline contracting professionals understand what false claims are, what the qui tam (“whistleblower”) provisions mean, how liability has been recently expanded, and signals to initiate an internal investigation.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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