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Maryland False Claims Act Lawyer

If you live or work in Maryland, where government funds dominate the economy, it is crucial to know your rights under the Federal False Claims Act and the Maryland False Health Claims Act.

These rights are especially valuable, because there are special laws that provide financial rewards to those citizens who help the United States and the State of Maryland recover funds that would otherwise be lost to fraud. Although this act applies to fraud against the government generally, in practice it targets fraud arising from contracts with the government. If a person files a claim under the Federal False Claims Act and wins, then that person will receive anywhere between 15% and 30% of the damages paid to the government. This is a considerable incentive because government contracts tend to be very valuable and concern very large amounts of money. Even 15% of damages will usually be a big sum of money. A False Claims Case, however, can be complicated and is usually opposed by experienced attorneys. Thus, it is important that you contact a Maryland False Claims Act lawyer if you have information that may qualify for a case.

Background

False Claims Act Lawyer, MarylandThis law dates back to the Civil War, when the Lincoln Administration and Congress decided to act against contractors defrauding the Union Army.  Today, it is still used to fight defense contracting fraud, as well as many other kinds of fraud committed against the federal government.  It creates a special right for an individual to sue on behalf of the United States.  Any kind of fraud that involves federal funds can potentially be a case under the Federal False Claims Act.  The law provides for treble damages against a defendant and imposes civil penalties against the defendant.

Medicare fraud cases comprise many of the major False Claims Act cases. For this reason, The Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”) has strengthened the FCA further in order to make it easier for the government to recover from contractors defrauding the Medicare Medicaid System. This is particularly important because defrauding the health care system creates additional costs and externalities for everyone who participates.

Perhaps as a result of seeing large recoveries in such health care-related fraud cases, the Maryland Legislature adopted a similar law in 2010.  The Maryland False Health Claims Act allows for a reward when health care agencies of the State of Maryland have been defrauded.  The Maryland law is limited to fighting fraud in health care. By contrast, the Federal False Claims Act makes it possible to sue when a defendant defrauds any federal agency.  Sometimes, however, the same people manage to defraud both the federal and the state government at the same time.

General Procedure

When filing a case under either of these laws, the case is filed “under seal.” Keeping the case secret permits the government to investigate the matter and decide if they want to participate in the case. If the government chooses to participate, it can do two things: “join” the case or take over the case. Typically, if the government chooses to participate, there is a high likelihood that the case will be successful. Needless to say, that is a great for the plaintiff, who stands to make a portion of the recovery. If the government elects not to participate, the plaintiff can still proceed with the case and still stands to make a percentage.

There are big concerns for a potential False Claims Act plaintiff, primarily a fear of retaliation from an employer, which could include termination, poor references, and other dangers. Fortunately, the False Claims Act provides protections for plaintiffs, largely by keeping the case “under seal,” or secret. This means that no one except for the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s counsel, and officials in the government will know about the case. In that period of time, the plaintiff will have the opportunity to work his counsel to find better employment and ensure his or her life is in order before the case becomes public.

Most importantly, there are provisions in the False Claims Act and in state laws like the Maryland False Health Claims Act that protect plaintiffs from retaliation. Specifically, these provisions allow individuals to receive:

  • Double Back Pay
  • Re-instatement Damages
  • Punitive Damages

False Claims Act in Maryland

In Maryland, it can seem like everyone is working for the government, either directly or for contractors doing business with the government.  It is not true, of course, but a lot of people do.  A massive amount of Maryland’s business is based on, or funded by, federal and state government.  In fact, there are at least 18 large federal installations in the state, including the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health, located in Bethesda.   NASA has facilities in Greenbelt, the FDA is in White Oak, the EPA and the Social Security Administration have offices in the state and, of course, there are also military installations throughout Maryland.

All these government agencies do business with contractors and conduct business within Maryland.  The federal government also provides large grants to private institutions and funds major projects throughout the state.  The government of the State of Maryland also does business with contractors and provides funding for health care facilities, nursing homes and medical care providers.

Of course, most of these businesses do right by the government. Most people want to be sure the government gets value for money.  The Federal and the Maryland False Claims Acts are not to be imposed lightly on businesses.  Indeed their purpose is not to ensure merely that contracts are handled well or handled better.  Their purpose is to combat those unscrupulous few that would go so far as to defraud their government.

Both the federal government and the State of Maryland have enacted these laws to protect government funds, since so much is at stake.  Fraud against the government hurts all of us.  It especially hurts the Maryland businesses that want to compete on merit.  If the businesses and institutions who work to succeed by being the best lose out to those who cheat the government, then the best companies will not be able to grow, the best scientific advances will not receive research funding and the best projects will not be funded.  Fighting such fraud benefits everyone.

Yes, of course, government contracting is very big business.  Yes of course, these kinds of cases involve many complicated areas and technical requirements.  If you believe that you possess information concerning fraud committed against the government, please consult with an attorney who understands state and federal False Claim Acts before you take any action.