The American Bar Association recently held its Ninth National Institute on the Civil False Claims Act and Qui Tam Enforcement (“National Institute”) in Washington, D.C. The National Institute was attended by experts nationwide from the Department of Justice, state attorneys general, federal agencies, and by attorneys who specialize in False Claims Act and qui tam litigation. The attendees met to discuss the ever-changing field of litigation and enforcement of False Claims Act cases.
Keynote speaker, Acting Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery, addressed the attendees on day 2 of the event: “it is abundantly clear that, twenty-five years after this statute was significantly amended [False Claims Act], it remains the government’s most potent civil weapon in addressing fraud against the taxpayers.”
According to Delery, “Last year, more than 630 qui tam matters were filed with the Department – more than in any other year in the history of the Act and an increase of more than 47% since 2009. More than two-thirds of these cases alleged false claims to government health care programs.”
Delery cited the recent $1.5 billion settlement with Abbott Laboratories as an example of the efforts by his office to police illegal marketing of prescription drugs. Abbott agreed to settle criminal and civil matters, including 4 separate whistleblower suits, related to the unlawful promotion of the drug Depakote for off-label uses. It is the second highest payment by a pharmaceutical company.
Delery expressed an understanding of the reluctance by whistleblowers to come forward. “I very much appreciate that the decision to file a qui tam action is often a very difficult one. Relators are often shunned by their colleagues. Counsel for relators often put significant time and effort into matters that may never result in a recovery.”
“And yet I would be remiss if I did not mention that all too often DOJ attorneys dedicate significant time and effort investigating allegations that are too broadly pled or that are based on faulty information. I must stress, as have my predecessors who have spoken at this event in the past, the importance of relators filing actions that meet the requirements of the False Claims Act and, in particular, providing enough information to allow us to investigate and evaluate a claim effectively. Of course, by helping us, you are helping yourselves, as a sufficiently- and accurately-detailed claim enhances the Government’s ability to assess intervention.”
Delery also commented on comments by the defense bar that “qui tam lawsuits represent a cost of doing business, and that qui tam settlements and recoveries should be treated as any other regulatory burden.” He encouraged the defense bar to actively encourage their clients to prevent fraud through self-reporting efforts, forward-looking compliance measures, and to work cooperatively with the government to eliminate fraud.
“One specific tactic that runs counter to this goal involves efforts by defendants in qui tam cases to ‘run out the clock’ – to drag out compliance with government requests for information in order to force the Department to decline to intervene or forego making an intervention decision, leaving the relator to soldier on alone. Let me be clear that such a strategy is both destined to fail and contrary to defendants’ own self-interests.”
Delery went on to explain that defense counsel that do a thorough job of investigating the allegations, and of presenting the client’s view of the applicable facts and law, will get more credit from the government when attempting to negotiate a resolution of a False Claims Act case.
If you have any firsthand knowledge, information, or evidence related to any federal, state, county or city government fraud, you should speak with an experienced qui tam lawyer who can help you understand your legal rights and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
If you have a claim, contact the Florida whistleblower attorneys at McCabe Rabin, P.A. for a free and confidential consultation by calling toll free at 877.915.4040 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.