False Claims Amendments Act Of 2021 Still Winding Its Way Through Congress
Originally signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the False Claims Act (FCA) is one of the most powerful legal tools to stop fraud against the government. Notably, the FCA allows private citizens to initiate a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the government when the person uncovers fraudulent activity, and provides special protections for whistleblowers.
In 2021, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the False Claims Amendments Act of 2021—a reform package focused on strengthening the federal anti-fraud statute. As the year closes out, the reform bill is still making its way through the legislative process.
Here, our Florida IRS Whistleblower lawyers highlights three key things to know about the False Claims Amendments Act of 2021.
- Proposed Change: Materiality Burden-Shifting
The False Claims Amendments Act of 2021 contains a provision that would shift the burden on the issue of materiality. Under current federal law, the government—or the qui tam whistleblower filing a claim on behalf of the government—has the duty of proving that an agency would not have purchased goods or services from the defendant had false statements never been made. If passed into law, the FCA reform bill would shift the burden of proof to the defendant, reducing the ability of fraudsters to argue voided an otherwise serious violation of the law.
- Proposed Change: Discovery Cost Shifting
The False Claims Act reform bill also includes a discovery cost-shifting provision. A common defense strategy in FCA cases is to request a large amount of documents, records, and other materials from the government. The False Claims Amendments Act of 2021 would allow courts to hold a defendant responsible for paying the full cost of a discovery deemed not sufficiently relevant or otherwise unduly burdensome. The goal of this provision is to prevent defendants from raising the cost of litigation unnecessarily.
- The False Claims Amendments Act of 2021 Still Has a Ways to Go to Become Law
The lead sponsor of the False Claims Amendments Act of 2021 is Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a long-standing advocate for whistleblower rights. The proposed reformed package has significant bipartisan support. Other notable supporters of the bill include Senator John Kennedy (R-Louisiana), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), and Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois). Still, the bill has a long way to go before it can become law. As 2022 begins, the House Judiciary Committee has not yet taken up the legislation. The continued negotiations bear watching in the coming year.
Get Help From a False Claims Act Attorney in Florida
At Guttman, Freidin & Celler, our Florida False Claims Act attorneys are standing by, ready to protect your rights. If you have any questions about qui tam lawsuits, our team is more than ready to get you answers. Contact us today for a no cost, no obligation review of your case. We provide qui tam representation to whistleblowers throughout Florida and across the country.