The False Claims Act was established to encourage whistleblowers to report fraud against government programs. For liability under the FCA to attach, the wrongdoer must have knowledge that the claim presented to the government for payment is false. This is often called the “scienter” requirement.
Although the “knowledge” requirement is not defined in the False Claims Act, courts have looked at the totality of the circumstances to resolve the issue. United States ex rel. Purcell v. MWI Corp., 807 F.3d 281, 290 (D.C. Cir. 2015).
The wrongdoer act knowingly when he “(1) has actual knowledge of the [falsity]; (2) acts in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information; or (3) acts in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the information, and no proof of specific intent to defraud is required.” U.S. ex rel. Bartlett v. Ashcroft, 39 F. Supp. 3d 656.
“Although proof of a specific intent to defraud is not required, the statute’s language makes plain that liability does not attach to innocent mistakes or simple negligence.” United States ex rel. Phalp v. Lincare Holdings, Inc., 857 F.3d 1148, 1155 (11th Cir. 2017
Although the False Claims Act is a powerful tool for whistleblowers, the Act requires whistleblowers to follow specific requirements to receive protection and an award.
To protect your rights, it is important to speak with an experienced whistleblower lawyer prior to reporting the fraud. Miller Law Group has experience representing whistleblowers under the False Claims Act.
Contact us for a free consultation, or call 919-348-4361.