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House Judiciary Committee Hears Testimony on Proposed Changes to the False Claims Act

The Judiciary Committee for the U.S. House of Representatives recently held a hearing on proposed amendments to the False Claims Act that would severely hamper the rights of whistleblowers and their ability to successfully bring qui tam lawsuits.  The proposed changes are based on a "wish-list" of reforms authored by business groups who are seeking to limit whistleblowers' options and recoveries when bringing a qui tam claim.

Proposed Amendments to False Claims Act Would Limit Whistleblowers' Recoveries

The proposed amendments to the False Claims Act include significant deterrents to whistleblowers and their efforts to bring qui tam lawsuits alleging fraud.  The most significant proposed amendment to the False Claims Act would require whistleblowers to report fraud internally at least 180 days before being permitted to file a qui tam lawsuit.  Other proposed changes include a reduction of penalties that companies would have to pay (thus reducing whistleblower awards to qui tam plaintiffs), and forcing whistleblowers to drop their lawsuits if the government does not intervene.  Proponents of the proposed amendments claim that such changes are necessary to prevent "weak and frivolous" claims.

Senator Grassley Testifies Against Proposed False Claims Act Changes

In a rare occurrence, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley asked to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in opposition to the proposed amendments to the False Claims Act.  Senator Grassley observed that the current False Claims Act was "working fantastically," noting that the Act has allowed the government to recover more than $42 billion in fraud claims since 1987, largely due to the efforts of whistleblowers who come forward to report fraud.  Senator Grassley testified that the proposed changes to the False Claims Act would hamstring whistleblowers' ability to combat fraud by pursuing qui tam lawsuits.  Senator Grassley also testified that requiring whistleblowers to report fraud internally "puts a huge target" on the whistleblower's back and makes them reluctant to come forward to report fraud.

Reducing or limiting the recoveries for a successful qui tam lawsuit have the same effect and place unnecessary obstacles in the way of the largest source of tips that lead to recovery for fraud against the government.

Finally, Senator Grassley testified that the proposed amendments to the False Claims Act were simply "hefty concessions" for the "big corporate sponsors" of the changes, and warned against proposals purporting to "strengthen" the False Claims Act by gutting penalties for companies and hindering recoveries for whistleblowers in qui tam suits.

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If you have discovered evidence of government fraud, contact an experienced False Claims Act attorney before blowing the whistle. You may be entitled to a substantial reward and the legal protections afforded to whistleblowers under state and federal laws. The attorneys of Berger & Montague are nationally recognized experts in Whistleblower/Qui Tam actions with over a decade of experience pursuing these complex fraud cases. For more information or to schedule your confidential consultation, use the form on this page or call us at 1-800-424-6690.

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For further reading:
Our Law Firm's Approach to False Claims and Whistleblower Cases
Whistleblower/Qui Tam Litigation Statistics and Trends
Seeking Qui Tam Lawyers/Attorneys
Does a Qui Tam Relator Need to Identify Specific False Claims Submitted to the Government?

 

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