In 2011, the District of Columbia adopted the District of Columbia False Claims Act (“DC False Claims Act”), its own version of the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”). The DC False Claims Act allows private individuals who know about fraud to bring a qui tam case against a person or entity for submitting or causing the submission of false claims to the government.
Like the federal FCA, and DC False Claims Act allows for financial rewards to whistleblowers for bringing an action on behalf of the District. If the District decides to intervene in a case, the whistleblower may receive 15-25% of the recovery. If the District does not intervene and the whistleblower pursues the case on their own, the whistleblower may receive 25-30% of the recovery.
DC False Claims Act and Federal False Claims Act Similarities
Key provisions of the DC False Claims Act mirror the federal FCA, such as:
- Liability attaches under the DC False Claims Act for: submitting a false claim for payment to the District, making or using a false record or statement material to a false claim, failing to deliver all of the property owed to the District, creating or submitting a false receipt, making a false purchase, or conspiring to do any of these actions.
- A private citizen who knows about fraud against the District of Columbia can bring a claim on behalf of the District. If the District of Columbia Attorney General decides not to pursue the case, the citizen has the right to proceed with the litigation in Court.
- The DC False Claims Act prohibits employers from retaliating against whistleblower employees. Retaliation includes firing, demoting, suspending, threatening, or harassing the employee. If the employer does retaliate, the employee is entitled to the reinstatement of their position, two times the amount of back pay, interest on the back pay, and compensation for any damages sustained because of the discrimination.
DC False Claims Act and Federal False Claims Act Differences
While the DC False Claims Act and the federal FCA have numerous similarities, they also have several differences:
- In addition to the reasons mentioned above, liability also attaches under the DC False Claims Act for: benefiting from an accidental false claim submission to the District, discovering that the claim is false, and failing to report the false claim to the District; and being accidentally overpaid by the District, discovering the overpayment, and failing to return the overpayment to the District.
- While an action brought under the federal FCA initially remains under seal for at least 60 days, an action brought under the DC False Claims Act initially remains under seal for at least 180 days (the District can petition the Court to have the action remain under seal for longer than 180 days).
Previous DC False Claims Act Settlements
The District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office has prosecuted numerous qui tam cases, recovering funds for the District government:
- D.C. Public Schools: In July 2016, the District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office won a $539,000 judgment against a couple for fraudulently enrolling their three children in D.C. Public Schools while they lived in Maryland and Virginia.
- Miracle Hands: In June 2014, the District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office won a $329,653 judgment against Miracle Hands, Inc., a District of Columbia nonprofit corporation, for improperly diverting grant funds from the District’s HIV/AIDs program.
To read more about what whistleblower clients can expect from our lawyers, click here.
One last thing…
For more than a decade, the Berger Montague Whistleblower, Qui Tam & False Claims Act Practice Group has represented whistleblowers in matters involving healthcare fraud, defense contracting fraud, IRS fraud, securities fraud, and commodities fraud. While the information on this blog is not legal advice, we would be more than happy to speak with you directly about your potential case. Any information you share with us will be treated with the highest level of confidentiality, and we will protect you every step of the way.