Florida False Claims Act
Miami Healthcare Fraud Attorneys
Healthcare fraud costs state and federal governments billions of dollars every year and affects every person in the state, who have to pay more for healthcare and health insurance to make up for the dollars lost to fraud. Florida outlaws many fraudulent acts against the government and provides strong civil penalties against companies who defraud the government. In addition, Florida law allows private persons to sue companies for fraud on behalf of the government and to share in any monies recovered in a civil action. Read more about the Florida False Claims Act below, and contact the Miami healthcare fraud attorneys Freidin Brown, P.A. at 888-677-7764 for advice and representation in a false claims act lawsuit in Florida.
Illegal acts under the Florida False Claims Act
The Florida False Claims Act (FFCA) begins at Florida Statutes section 68.081 and continues through section 68.092. The FFCA prohibits more than half a dozen different fraudulent acts, including:
- Knowingly presenting or causing to be presented a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval
- Knowingly making, using or causing to be made or used a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim
- Having custody or control over property or money to be used by the state and knowingly delivering or causing to be delivered less than all of that money or property
- Conspiring to commit one of these violations
A claim is defined in the Act as any request or demand for money or property presented to an employee, officer or agent of the state or government contractor. “Knowing” or “knowingly” is also defined under the Act to include:
- Actual knowledge
- Acting in deliberate ignorance of truth or falsity
- Acting in reckless disregard of truth or falsity
Note that it is not required to prove specific intent to defraud. Innocent mistake, however, is a defense to a charge of violating the act.
Violating the FFCA can result in assessment of a civil penalty from $5,500 to $11,000 plus triple the amount of any actual damages caused. A violator may be able to get penalties reduced from triple to double damages due to extenuating circumstances specified in the law, such as:
- Furnishing the state with all information known about the violation within 30 days of first obtaining the information
- Fully cooperating with any official investigation
Civil actions for false claims and healthcare fraud in Florida
Section 68.083 of the FFCA covers civil actions for false claims. This law is modeled after the federal False Claims Act, which authorizes civil claims for Medicare and Medicaid fraud or other fraud against the federal government. This section of the law allows a private person to bring a civil action against a violator of the FFCA on behalf of the person and the affected Florida state agency. The government may choose to take over the action or allow the private person to proceed. If the government pursues the case, the person who initially brought the action can still receive between 15% and 25% of any amounts the government recovers, plus attorney’s fees and costs. If the government does not intervene, the person may keep between 25% and 30% of any monies recovered, plus attorney’s fees and costs.
The percentage awarded to the person depends on how much the person substantially contributed to the prosecution of the case. Also, if the information provided by the person was previously published in the news media or came out of a public hearing or other proceeding, the person may only receive 10% or less of any award. Additionally, the person’s reward can be reduced if the person was involved in planning or initiating the fraud, and the person can be kept from any award if convicted of a crime in relation to the fraud. Also, a private person who pursues a case could be required to pay the defendant’s attorneys’ fees and costs if the defendant wins the case and it is shown that the action was clearly frivolous, clearly vexatious, or brought primarily for purposes of harassment.
Employees who participate in a prosecution against their employer are protected by law from discrimination or retaliation at work, including being fired, demoted, suspended, threatened or harassed.
Miami Healthcare Fraud Attorneys Pursuing Florida False Claims Act Cases Statewide
If you are a healthcare executive at a company like Humana or Aetna who has discovered billing or coding errors or other fraudulent activity against a Florida state agency, contact Freidin Brown, P.A. at 888-677-7764 for a no-cost, confidential consultation about pursuing a claim under the Florida False Claims Act. Our Miami healthcare fraud attorneys serve clients throughout the state of Florida and can take your case on a contingency fee base so it costs you nothing out-of-pocket to proceed, and you only pay us if we recover for you.