Vermont False Claims Act

By Jonathan DeSantis

In 2015, Vermont enacted its own version of the federal False Claims Act.[1] Generally speaking, the Vermont False Claims Act is very similar to the Federal False Claims Act except that the Vermont law prohibits fraud upon the state government, while the federal law prohibits fraud upon the federal government.

What the Vermont False Claims Act Prohibits

The Vermont False Claims Act prohibits the presentation of false claims to a state agency, officer, or employee.[2] In addition, the Vermont False Claims Act prohibits the presentation of false claims to recipients of state funds where the false claim pertains to funds provided by the state.[3]  For example, because Medicaid is jointly funded by the federal government and the Vermont state government, a false claim involving Medicaid funds would violate the federal False Claims Act and the Vermont False Claims Act. In addition, the Vermont False Claims Act prohibits a variety of other misconduct related to the presentation of false claims, such as the creation of false records related to false claims.[4]

Penalties Under the Vermont False Claims Act

A person or company who violates the Vermont False Claims Act is liable for:

  • (1) a civil penalty of $5,500-$11,000 for each violation,
  • (2) three times the amount of damages that the State suffers because of the violations, and
  • (3) the costs of the investigation and prosecution of the violations.[5]

If a person or company reports their own violations within 30 days of learning of any violation and cooperates with the investigation, the person or company may face significantly lower penalties.[6]  This is designed to encourage violators to self-report their own violations.

Whistleblower Lawsuits Under the Vermont False Claims Act

The State, through the Attorney General, can sue a person or company who has violated the Vermont False Claims Act.[7]  In addition, a whistleblower (also known as a relator) can bring claims on behalf of the state if the whistleblower knows about violations of the Vermont False Claims Act.[8]  This is known as a qui tam lawsuit. If a qui tam lawsuit is successful, the relator recovers between 15-30% of the money recovered by the State from the lawsuit, and the remaining money goes to the State.[9]

Notable Aspects of the Vermont False Claims Act

One unique aspect of the Vermont False Claims Act is that in certain situations, claims may be brought for violations prior to enactment of the statute in 2015.  Vt. Stat. tit. 32, § 639(b). Put differently, the Vermont False Claims Act is retroactive in some circumstances. Thus, if individuals know about violations of the Vermont False Claims Act that occurred prior to 2015, they still may be able to bring qui tam lawsuits.

Another interesting sub-section of the Vermont False Claims Act is that it specifies that courts “will be guided by the construction of similar terms contained in the Federal False Claims Act.”[10] As described above, the Vermont False Claims Act is modelled after the federal False Claims Act. Additionally, given that the Vermont False Claims Act was recently enacted in 2015, there are very few cases applying and interpreting the Vermont False Claims Act. Thus, courts applying the Vermont False Claims Act will look to cases applying and interpreting the corresponding provisions of the federal False Claims Act for guidance.

Contact Us to Learn More

Do you need a Whistleblower Lawyer or want to know more information about Qui Tam Law and your rights under the False Claims Act?

There are three easy ways to contact our firm for a free, confidential evaluation with one of our whistleblower attorneys:

  1. Fill out the contact form on this page.
  2. Email quitam@bm.net
  3. Call (888) 647-9292

Your submission will be reviewed by a Berger Montague qui tam attorney and remain confidential.

 

[1] VT LEGIS 25 (2015), 2015 Vermont Laws No. 25 (H. 120).

[2] Vt. Stat. tit. 32, §§ 630(1)(a), 631(a)(1).

[3] Vt. Stat. tit. 32, §§ 630(1)(b), 631(a)(1).

[4] Vt. Stat. tit. 32, § 631(a).

[5] Vt. Stat. tit. 32, § 631(b).

[6] Vt. Stat. tit. 32, § 631(c).

[7] Vt. Stat. tit. 32, § 632(a).

[8] Vt. Stat. tit. 32, § 632(b).

[9] Vt. Stat. tit. 32, § 635(a)-(d).

[10] Vt. Stat. tit. 32, § 641(b).

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By | 2019-01-08T10:07:33+00:00 January 8th, 2019|False Claims Act Information|