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False Claims Act

False Claims Act Attorneys

Federal False Claims Act (FCA) and the New York False Claims Act (NYFCA)

In common parlance, a “whistleblower” is an employee who reports wrongdoing by his employer. Both the federal government and many state governments have enacted legislation that is designed to prevent an employer from retaliating against an employee (by dismissal, demotion, etc.) for “blowing the whistle” on inappropriate behavior by his employer.

The definition of “whistleblower” is somewhat broader under the Federal False Claims Act (FCA) and the New York False Claims Act (NYFCA). For the purposes of these acts, a whistleblower is a party who exposes fraud against the government in which an individual or a company obtains or withholds funds or property from the government through fraud. Private government contractors are typical defendants.

The Federal False Claims Act

The Federal False Claims Act allows anyone to file a lawsuit against either an individual or a company that defrauds the government out of money or property. Federal FCA lawsuits must be filed in a Federal District Court rather than a New York State Court (the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, for example), and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure apply.

A private citizen must file a “qui tam” lawsuit and comply with strict and complex procedural requirements. The incentive to do so arises from the fact that the citizen is entitled to keep a certain percentage of any funds that the government wins in such a lawsuit. If the case is strong, it is likely that the Department of Justice will take over the lawsuit at some point.

The New York False Claims Act

The New York False Claims Act (NYFCA) is a state version of the federal FCA that applies to fraud against the New York state government as well as the various local governments. Private citizens may also file claims under the NYFCA, and the New York Attorney General may take over the case.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are some examples of fraud against the government that is actionable under the False Claims Act?

There are a virtually unlimited number of ways to profit by defrauding the government. Below are only a few examples:

  • Billing for goods or services not actually provided
  • Securing a contract by “rigging the bids” and then profiting from it
  • Using substandard contracting materials to save money and then falsely certifying otherwise

How much compensation does a whistleblower receive if an FCA lawsuit is successful?

The general compensation standards are as follows:

  • Federal FCA: 15 to 30 percent of the total amount recovered
  • NYCFA: 15 to 25 percent of the total amount recovered if the New York Attorney General intervenes in the lawsuit
  • NYFCA: 25 to 30 percent of the total amount recovered if the New York Attorney General does not intervene

Plaintiffs are eligible for these amounts whether the claim is resolved through judgment or through settlement.

What penalties are assessed against violators?

Under the federal FCA the penalties are:

  • a fine of $5,000 to $102,000 per violation; and
  • treble damages (300 percent of the government’s actual damages).

Under the NYFCA the penalties are:

  • a fine of $6,000 to $12,000 per violation; and
  • treble damages.

Are Employees Protected from Employer Retaliation?

Under both the federal and state FCA, an employee who suffers retaliation for “blowing the whistle” is eligible to receive (as necessary):

  • reinstatement or an injunction against continued discrimination;
  • double back pay; and
  • special damages (including attorney’s fees).

Serious Professionals with a Reputation to Protect

Here at Hacker Murphy, we are used to being showered with honors. For example, our firm has been named a top-tier Albany law firm by U.S. News for many years in a row. Our team consists of attorneys who have received similar honors in their individual capacity:

  • Top rankings from preeminent legal rating service AVVO
  • The highest possible quality ranking from the Martindale Hubbell
  • Membership in the International Academy of Trial Lawyers (only 500 members in the entire United States).

Time Is Your Adversary until You Act Decisively

It is important that you act quickly to protect yourself. If you do business in New York’s Capital Region and you are concerned about your company’s vulnerability to a whistleblower claim under either the federal or state version of the False Claims Act, contact us online or call one of our offices (in Albany, Saratoga, Troy, and Schenectady) to schedule a free case consultation.

Have Questions?

  • If I hire an attorney but do not want to go to trial, can I settle?
    In the course of preparing a case for trial, your personal injury attorney will work with the defense attorneys and insurance companies in an effort to secure a fair settlement for you and your family. The final decision to accept an offer of settlement or go to trial is yours alone to make.
    Contact us now to discuss your case with one of our experienced attorneys.
  • If arrested, what steps can I take on my behalf?

    1. Do not discuss your situation with anyone except your attorney.

    2. Unless your attorney says otherwise, do not discuss your case with law enforcement.

    3. Request to have your attorney present if you are to be put in a lineup or subjected to testing.

    4. Remain calm and courteous. Allow your attorney to speak for you to ensure that your rights are protected and you are given all the benefits afforded to you under the law.
    Contact us now to discuss your case with one of our experienced attorneys.

  • What is the difference between criminal procedure and civil procedure?
    When a crime has been committed, action is taken by a government agency against the person, persons, organization or other entity that violated the law. The first purpose of a criminal prosecution is punishment, which frequently consists of a fine or jail time. In a civil matter, the dispute is between two or more individuals or entities. The first purpose of a civil prosecution is obtaining compensation for the wronged person or entity. Settlement in a civil matter is generally an award of a money judgment. A criminal sentence is not imposed in a civil matter.
    Contact us now to discuss your case with one of our experienced attorneys.