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Under recent amendments to the False Claims Act that broaden it considerably, nearly every company in nearly every regulated industry likely will face allegations that it submitted false claims or made false statements to the United States government. The statutory bounty for whistleblowers—who are usually disgruntled former or current employees, consultants or independent contractors—of up to 30% of the government’s “damages,” abetted by contingent fee and statutory attorney fee recoveries by the plaintiffs’ bar, has led to an ever-increasing number of these cases. These circumstances, coupled with the treble damages provisions, statutory penalties of up to $11,000 per claim, and the risk of suspension or debarment if a company is found liable, mean that companies must take all of these cases very seriously. We do.
Jenner & Block has a wide range of experience representing clients across all industries in matters relating to the False Claims Act. We have litigated dozens of False Claims Act cases brought both by the government and by qui tam relators. We have also conducted scores of internal investigations and have advised clients about matters relating to allegations of fraud and corruption, prohibited technology transfers, and exports to embargoed countries. In addition, our attorneys regularly present programs to clients and client organizations, updating them with recent regulations and developments, and highlighting best practices in responding to government investigations.
Jenner & Block offers both depth and breadth in the False Claims Act and qui tam litigation arena, having defended and successfully litigated scores of these cases since the False Claims Act was substantially amended and expanded in 1986, and before. Our extensive experience representing corporations and individuals in related procurement fraud investigations adds additional strength to our ability to analyze and defend these actions.
We have frequently headed off government involvement and plaintiffs’ zeal in these cases through vigorous representation during the investigation phase. When the plaintiffs remained undaunted, we have successfully litigated numerous cases before the federal district courts and courts of appeal across the country, obtaining victories for clients on motions to dismiss and for summary judgment, and at trial and on appeal. Where settlement is the best option, we deal frequently and have useful working relationships with many of the attorneys and senior Department of Justice officials responsible for prosecuting the government’s False Claims Act cases and formulating policy.
We have also established ethics and compliance programs that seek to avoid false claims cases in the first place by identifying potential problems before they become lawsuits, and by providing an outlet for disgruntled employees to raise their concerns and get fair answers. Indeed, one of the best ways for any company to diminish the risk of a qui tam action is to increase the efficiency and responsiveness of its ethics organization.