The Massachusetts False Claims Act (“Massachusetts FCA”) is Massachusetts’ version of the federal False Claims Act (“FCA”). The Massachusetts FCA allows private individuals who know about fraud against Massachusetts to bring a qui tam case against a person or entity for submitting or causing the submission of false claims to Massachusetts, including any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, such as a county, city, town, or school district.
Like the federal FCA, the Massachusetts FCA allows for financial rewards to whistleblowers for bringing an action on behalf of Massachusetts. If the Commonwealth decides to intervene in the case, the whistleblower may receive 15-25% of the recovery. If the Commonwealth does not intervene and the whistleblower pursues the case on their own, the whistleblower may receive 25-30% of the recovery.
Massachusetts FCA and Federal FCA Similarities
Key provisions of the Massachusetts FCA mirror the federal FCA, such as:
- Liability attaches under the Massachusetts FCA for: submitting a false claim for payment to Massachusetts, making or using a false record or statement material to a false claim, failing to deliver all of the property owed to Massachusetts, creating or submitting a false receipt, making a false purchase, or conspiring to do any of these actions.
- Massachusetts can recover triple the amount it was defrauded, plus up to $11,000 per violation.
- A private citizen who knows about fraud against Massachusetts can bring a claim on behalf of the Commonwealth. If the Massachusetts Attorney General decides not to pursue the case, the citizen has the right to proceed in Court.
- The Massachusetts FCA 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.
Massachusetts FCA and Federal FCA Differences
While the Massachusetts FCA is substantially similar to the federal FCA, it does have a few differences from the federal Act:
- The Massachusetts FCA allows a recovery for a fraud that cost money to either the Commonwealth OR to any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, such as a county, city, or school district.
- While qui tam actions brought under the federal FCA must remain under seal for at least 60 days, actions brought under the Massachusetts FCA provides for a longer initial sealing period of at least 120 days.
Previous Massachusetts FCA Settlements
The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has prosecuted numerous qui tam cases, recovering millions of dollars to the Commonwealth government.
- Merck: In December 2011, Merck & Co. agreed to pay $24 million to settle Massachusetts’ Medicaid fraud claims.
- Actavis: In March 2010, Actavis Elizabeth LLC agreed to pay $3.6 million to settle Massachusetts’ allegations that the company inflated drug prices sold to the Commonwealth’s Medicaid program.
- Mylan: In November 2010, Mylan Inc. agreed to pay $2.6 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it reported false and inflated prices for generic pharmaceutical products paid for by the Massachusetts Medicaid 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.