In 1991, the State of Illinois adopted the Illinois False Claims Act (“Illinois FCA”), formerly called the Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act, its own version of the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”). The Illinois FCA prohibits false claims against the State of Illinois and allows private individuals who know about fraud against the Illinois state government to bring a qui tam case against the offending party on behalf of the State.
Like the FCA, the Illinois FCA offers financial rewards to whistleblowers. 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, they may receive 25-30% of any eventual recovery.
Key Provisions of the Illinois False Claims Act
The Illinois FCA includes the following key provisions:
- Liability attaches under the Illinois FCA for, among other violations: knowingly submitting a false claim for payment to Illinois, knowingly making or using a false record or statement material to a false claim, conspiring to do either of these actions, or creating or using a false record material to an obligation to repay Illinois.
- A private citizen who knows about fraud against the State of Illinois can bring a claim on behalf of the State. If the Illinois Attorney General decides not to pursue the case, the relator has the right to proceed with the litigation.
- Generally, a six year statute of limitations applies to claims under the Illinois FCA. That is, an action cannot be brought more than six years after the date of the violation.
- Once an action is filed under the Illinois FCA, it remains under seal for at least 60 days (the State can petition to have the action remain under seal for longer than 60 days).
- Employers are prohibited 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.
Previous Illinois False Claims Act Cases
The Illinois Attorney General’s Office has prosecuted numerous qui tam cases, recovering funds for both the state government and Illinois taxpayers:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois: In February 2011, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois paid $25 million to settle claims that it removed sick children from its insurance rolls and billed the costs to Medicaid, violating the Illinois FCA, federal FCA, Illinois’ consumer fraud statute, and a common law theory of unjust enrichment or fraud.
- Nutrition Clinic: In June 2011, the owner of Nutrition Clinic, a chain of weight loss clinics in Illinois, was accused of defrauding the State’s Medicaid program and Blue Cross Blue Shield by charging for unnecessary medical testing.
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.