Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top Tucson Attorneys Committed To Representing Defendants and Plaintiffs in False Claims Actions


The False Claims Act (also known as a "Qui Tam" action) allows private citizens to sue on behalf of the Federal government whenever the government has been defrauded by contractors doing business with government entities. In return, the private citizen is rewarded with a portion of the recovered sums. It is an important tool to help safeguard money from the taxpayers and help fight against fraud.

The experienced attorneys in Tucson at Heurlin Sherlock are proud to be at the forefront of helping clients protect and recover taxpayer expenditures through False Claim Act filings. We have been involved with False Claim Act actions involving entities such as Federal Contractors, Defense Contractors, and Highway/Construction Contractors.

How Does The False Claims Act Work?

The False Claims Act originated during the American Civil War (and has also been referred to as the "Lincoln Act") and has since been modified throughout the years. It prevents any of the following actions against the Federal government:

  • Presenting a false claim;
  • Making or using a false record in furtherance of a false claim;
  • Using a certified receipt with intent to defraud the U.S.;
  • Possessing property or money which belongs to the U.S. and failing to deliver all of it;
  • Using a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay the U.S.;
  • Concealing or avoiding an obligation to pay the U.S.;
  • Purchasing public property from a federal employee who was not authorized to sell it;
  • Conspiring to commit any of the actions described above.

The False Claims Act does not apply to tax fraud cases, which are covered under separate laws and IRS regulations.

The Act requires a detailed process for filing. Citizens cannot file False Act Claims on their own. They must be represented by an attorney. The lawyers of Heurlin Sherlock are well-versed in procedures concerning the False Claims Act and can assist you with any such claims.

The complaint must originally be filed under seal with the court, and all evidence must be disclosed to the Department of Justice. The government must then investigate the claim and decide if it wants to intervene in the case, or have it dismissed altogether. (Remember, the private citizen is acting on behalf of the government's interests in a False Claims Act.)

If the government fails to intervene or have the case dismissed, the citizen filing the complaint is free to sue on behalf of the government for violations of the False Claims Act.

Any defendant found liable under the False Claims Act may be responsible for up to three times the amount of actual damages alleged in the complaint, plus statutory penalties of up to $10,000. A citizen who successfully sues under the Act on behalf of the government is entitled to an award which can range from 10% to 30% of the total proceeds (depending on a number of factors), plus any attorneys fees and litigation costs.

Why Doesn't The Government Just Sue On Its Own Behalf In False Claims Act Cases?

The government has limited resources. As a result, it has to pick and choose its battles carefully. With the amount of transactions the Government conducts with private contractors for its various functions, it has neither the time nor the personnel to investigate every potential allegation of fraud against it. The reason for the False Claims Act is to provide incentives for private citizens to fill the gap and be a financial watchdog on the government's behalf.

Defending Your Company From A Wrongful False Claims Act Case

If a disgruntled former employee files a untrue False Claims Act against your company, it is critical that you engage experienced lawyers to assist in your investigation, the handling of government subpoenas and inquiries, and litigating the case if necessary.

Contact Our Tucson Attorneys For Your False Claims Act Case Today

If you know of or suspect a case concerning government fraud or actions which fall under the False Claims Act, or if your company is the subject of a False Claim Act allegation, contact our offices today to receive a prompt response from one of our experienced Arizona attorneys.



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