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United States Supreme Court Whistleblower Laws White Collar Crime

Escobar's Effect on False Claims Act Qui Tam Actions

The Supreme Court, in Universal Health Servs., Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, altered the landscape for FCA litigation. In this case, the Supreme Court instructed lower courts to scrutinize the materiality of the false statements to the government's decision to pay a claim; in doing so, the Court raised the bar for successful prosecution of qui tam claims.


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The False Claims Act (FCA or Act) can be a real punch in the gut for businesses on the wrong side of an FCA claim. The Act, codified at 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733, is designed to prevent private companies contracting with the government from knowingly submitting false or fraudulent claims for their services. The Act allows actions to be filed against the alleged wrongdoers in federal district court, and provides an incentive for whistleblowers to come forward and make such claims. These qui tam plaintiffs must be the “original source” of the information about the false claims, pursuant to 31 U.S.C. § 3730(e)(4), and are rewarded by receiving a percentage of the ultimate payout, calculated based on whether the federal government decides to intervene in the action, pursuant to § 3130(d).

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