In 2000, the State of Hawaii adopted the Hawaii False Claims Act for False Claims to the State (“Hawaii FCA”), its own version of the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”). The Hawaii FCA 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, the Hawaii FCA allows for financial rewards to whistleblowers for bringing an action on behalf of the State. If the State decides to intervene in a case, the whistleblower may receive 15-25% of the recovery. If the State does not intervene and the whistleblower pursues the case on their own, the whistleblower may receive 25-30% of the recovery.
In addition to the Hawaii False Claims Act for False Claims to the State, Hawaii also has a Hawaii False Claims Act for False Claims to the Counties. The county false claims act is essentially identical to the state false claims act, except that it applies to defrauding county governments instead of the state government.
Hawaii FCA and Federal FCA Similarities
Key provisions of the Hawaii FCA mirror the federal FCA, such as:
- Liability attaches under the Hawaii FCA for: submitting a false claim for payment to the State, making or using a false record or statement material to a false claim, failing to deliver all of the property owed to the State, 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 Hawaii can bring a claim on behalf of the State. If the Hawaii Attorney General decides not to pursue the case, the citizen has the right to proceed with the litigation in Court.
- Once an action is brought under the Hawaii FCA, it remains under seal for at least 60 days.
Hawaii FCA and Federal FCA Differences
While the Hawaii FCA and the federal FCA have numerous similarities, they also have several differences:
- In addition to the reasons mentioned above, liability also attaches under the Hawaii FCA for benefiting from an accidental false claim submission to the State, discovering that the claim is false, and failing to report the false claim to the State.
- Unlike the federal FCA, the Hawaii FCA exempts claims involving less than $500.
Previous Hawaii FCA Settlements
The Hawaii Attorney General’s Office has prosecuted numerous qui tam cases, recovering funds for the State government:
- Novartis: In October 2016, Novartis AG agreed to pay over $35 million to end a suit accusing it of violating federal and state false claims act-including the Hawaii FCA-by marketing the eczema cream Elidel for use on infants, even though it was only approved for older patients.
- Pathway Genomics: In January 2016, genetic testing company Pathway Genomics Corp. agreed to pay $4.1 million to the federal government and 28 states-including Hawaii-to settle a former employee’s False Claims Act suit accusing it of running a kickback scheme.
- Wahiawa General Hospital: In August 2013, Wahiawa General Hospital agreed to pay $451,428 to settle two lawsuits alleging that the hospital improperly billed the Medicare program, the State of Hawaii Medicaid program, and TRICARE, the federal health benefits program for military dependents.
For more information on the Hawaii FCA or to speak with an attorney, please contact Shauna Itri at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-875-3049. 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.