Florida False Claims Act Lawyer
In 1863, President Lincoln signed the False Claims Act to provide a means to go after government contractors who were engaging in fraudulent billing practices during the American Civil War. This law continues in operation today and is used by government agents and private persons to combat the billions of dollars in fraud perpetrated against the government by private contractors in the defense industry, education and housing sectors, agriculture programs, and healthcare industry. If you’re a Florida healthcare executive who has uncovered large-scale billing or coding errors, bulk purchases of inferior or defective products, or other forms of healthcare fraud being perpetrated against Medicare or Medicaid, the Florida healthcare fraud lawyers at Freidin Brown, P.A. can help you blow the whistle and recover a significant monetary award under the False Claims Act.
Florida Healthcare Fraud Lawyers
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 Florida healthcare fraud lawyers Freidin Brown, P.A. at 866-716-7292 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
The False Claims Act (FCA), also known as the Lincoln Law and sometimes referred to as a Qui Tam action, can be found in Title 31 of the US Code, sections 3729 through 3733. Section 3729 describes what false claims are, while section 3730 allows private persons to bring civil actions for false claims. The complaint is brought in the name of the government, and the government has 60 days to decide whether to intervene and take over the case. False claims in the context of healthcare fraud include actions such as:
- Knowingly presenting a false or fraudulent for payment for approval
- Knowingly making a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim
- Conspiring to commit one of these violations
If the government intervenes, it takes over responsibility for prosecuting the case. The person who brought the complaint can still continue as a party to the complaint and contribute to the prosecution, but the government is in charge and primarily responsible. If the government succeeds in recovering funds in the case, the person who brought the complaint will receive between 15 and 25% of the recovery, depending on the person’s contribution to the case. This amount can be limited to no more than 10% if the information provided by the person came from disclosures that were already made in a public setting or reported in the news media. The person will also be paid his or her lawyers’ fees and costs.
If the government declines to prosecute, the person making the complaint can proceed to prosecute the case personally. If successful, the person receives between 25 and 30% of the amount recovered, plus lawyers’ fees and costs. It’s important to know that in this situation, if the defendant wins, the court can order the plaintiff to pay the defendant’s lawyers’ fees and costs, but only if the court decides the action was clearly frivolous, clearly vexatious, or brought primarily for purposes of harassment.
Even someone who was involved in planning or initiating the fraud can bring a complaint under the False Claims Act, although the court can reduce the person’s share of any recovery as it deems appropriate. If the person is convicted of criminal conduct regarding the fraud, then no share in the recovery is allowed.
Blow the Whistle on Healthcare Fraud with the Help of our Florida False Claims Act Lawyers
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 866-716-7292 for a no-cost, confidential consultation about pursuing a claim under the Florida False Claims Act. Our Florida healthcare fraud lawyers 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.
To discuss how to proceed with a potential whistleblower claim or complaint under the False Claims Act, call Freidin Brown, P.A. at 866-716-7292 for a confidential consultation with an experienced and successful Florida false claims act lawyer.