Legal Alert: State and Local Government Contractors in Georgia Face False Claims Act Liability Formerly Seen Only on Federal Jobs

by Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP
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Effective July 1, 2012, Georgia’s new Taxpayer Protection False Claims Act (Act) applies to contractors from any industry doing business with Georgia state or local governments. The Act creates a framework for false claims liability in Georgia.

On April 16, 2012, Governor Nathan Deal signed the Act into law. Prompted by the federal government’s directive to strengthen the Georgia Medicaid False Claims Act, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Act in part to “comprehensively address the submission of false claims to the state . . . and local governments” and to “provide for liability to this state for certain false claims” including a “civil action for false claims submitted to this state or to local governments.” H.B. 822, 151st Gen. Assem., Reg. Sess., to be codified at O.C.G.A. § 23-3-120, et seq. Much like its federal counterpart, the Act creates potential liability for any entity that contracts with the state or local governments. This includes entities acting as construction contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers. The Act provides penalties of not less than $5,500 and not more than $11,000 for each false claim, plus three times the amount of any damage to the state or local government and all costs, reasonable expenses, and attorneys’ fees incurred by the state or local government in prosecuting a civil action under the Act. Id. § 23-3-121(a); cf. 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a).

A False Claim

Mirroring the federal False Claims Act, the Act imposes liability on “[a]ny person, firm, or other legal entity” for:

- Knowingly presenting (or causing to be presented) a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval;

- Knowingly making or using (or causing to be made or used) a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim; and

- Knowingly delivering (or causing to be delivered) less than the full amount of money to be used by the state or local government.

Please see full alert below for more information.

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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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